In a win for Audi, Volkswagen (VW) and other car makers, the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed that seven patents owned by patent licensing company West View Research are invalid.

The court handed down its decision yesterday, holding that the computer display patents were invalid under section 101 because they were abstract.

A patent may be obtained for “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof”, under section 101, but following Alice v CLS Bank, “laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas are not patentable”.

West View Research sued Audi and VW in November 2014, alleging infringement of a number of patents which share a written description.

The patents disclose a system and subsystems that use computer hardware, software and peripheral devices to collect, organise and display information, according to the Federal Circuit.

In March last year, Judge Cathy Bencivengo, at the US District Court for the Southern District of California, dismissed West View’s claim against the car makers.

West View had proposed alternative claims after the court gave it the opportunity to select different ones from each of the patents.

However, Bencivengo held that the alternative claims were “not distinguishable from those the court deemed invalid because they do not claim more than a combination of conventional computer components that respond to a user query for information”.

West View appealed and, during oral arguments, chose claim 63 of US patent number 8,719,038 and claim 29 of number 8,065,156 to represent all the patent claims for section 101.

“Under step one of the Alice test, claim 63 of the ‘038 patent and claim 29 of the ‘156 patent recite an abstract idea,” said the Federal Circuit.

It added that under step two of the Alice test, the claims lack an inventive concept that transforms the abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.

“Whether analysed individually or as an ordered combination, the claims recite conventional elements at a high level of generality and do not constitute an inventive concept,” said the court.

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