Method Requiring Physical Action not Claiming an Abstract Idea

Green Mountain Glass (Green Mountain) filed a patent infringement lawsuit of patent 6,230,521 against Saint-Gobain Containers, Inc., d/b/a Verallia North America, known as Ardagh Glass Inc. (“Ardagh”). The court denied a summary motion filed by Ardagh, finding that the claims of ’521 patent were not directed towards an abstract idea. In doing so, the court made a distinction between claims that could be performed mentally and those requiring physical involvement. The court explains:

[Claim 1 includes] the acts of “selecting virgin glass,” “determining percentages of at least said selected components of said mixed color glass cullet,” and “creating recycled glass products from said calculated composition” are not steps that are typically considered abstract. . . . Instead, they recite steps grounded in physical action. For example, the glass-maker must select the raw materials that will be used from a list of options. . . As a whole, the claims of the ‘521 patent describe a manufacturing process for recycling batches of mixed colored cutlet glass into glass bottles with desired properties. The claims require steps that the glass-maker must physically carry out-he cannot simply use his mind or a pen and paper to perform them.

The court disagreed with Ardagh’s attempt to analogize the ‘512 claims to Flook stating that “The [Flook] court found that, at its core, the patent claimed only a method of measuring and calculating, using a mathematical formula-an abstract idea that, without an inventive or physical application.” Instead, the court found the claims to be similar to those in Diehr: “Here, the ‘521 patent, similar to the patent-at-issue in Diehr, claims a step-by-step industrial process for creating a one-color glass end-product from recycled, mixed-color glass.”

Thanks to Joe Williams, Principal, Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner, P.A., for preparing this post.

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