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Axcess International, Inc. v. Genetec (USA) Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

April 23, 2019

GENETEC (USA) INC., Defendant.


         Presently before me is Defendant's Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). (D.I. 13). Defendant challenges the patent eligibility of every claim of U.S. Patent No. 7, 216, 158 ('"158 Patent") under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The Parties have fully briefed the issue. (D.I. 14, 17, 19). For the reasons set out below, I will deny Defendant's motion.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff filed this lawsuit on August 8, 2018, alleging that Defendant infringes claims 14-18 of the '158 Patent. (D.I. 1). The Patent contains three independent and twenty dependent claims. Asserted independent claim 14 is representative:

         A method of providing identity verification for access to a secure area, comprising:

eliciting a radio response from a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag at an access door of a secure area;
determining whether access by a wearer of the RFID tag to the secure area is authorized based on the radio response;
recording a video image of the wearer of the RFID tag at the access door; and controlling access to the door to provide access to the secure area by the wearer only if access by the wearer is authorized.

('158 Patent, claim 14).

         II. Legal Standard

         A. 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

         When reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the court must accept the complaint's factual allegations as true. See Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007). Rule 8(a) requires "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Id. at 555. The factual allegations do not have to be detailed, but they must provide more than labels, conclusions, or a "formulaic recitation" of the claim elements. Id. ("Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level... on the assumption that all the allegations in the complaint are true (even if doubtful in fact)."). Moreover, there must be sufficient factual matter to state a facially plausible claim to relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The facial plausibility standard is satisfied when the complaint's factual content "allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Id. ("Where a complaint pleads facts that are merely consistent with a defendant's liability, it stops short of the line between possibility and plausibility of entitlement to relief." (internal quotation marks omitted)).

         B. 35 U.S.C. § 101 Patent Eligible Subject Matter

         Section 101 of the Patent Act defines patent-eligible subject matter. It provides: "Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title." 35 U.S.C. § 101. The Supreme Court recognizes three categories of subject matter that are not eligible for patents-laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas. Alice Corp. Pty. v. CLS Bank Int'l, 134 S.Ct. 2347, 2354 (2014). The purpose of these exceptions is to protect the "basic tools of scientific and technological work." Mayo Collaborative Servs. v. Prometheus Labs., Inc., 132 S.Ct. 1289, 1293 (2012). "[A] process is not unpatentable simply because it contains a law of nature or a mathematical algorithm," as "an application of a law of nature or mathematical formula to a known structure or process may well be deserving of patent protection." Id. at 1293-94 (internal quotation marks and emphasis omitted). In order "to transform an unpatentable law of nature into a patent-eligible application of such a law, one must do more than simply state the law of nature while adding the words 'apply it.'" Id. at 1294 (emphasis omitted).

         In Alice, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the framework laid out in Mayo "for distinguishing patents that claim laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas from those that claim patent-eligible applications of those concepts." 134 S.Ct. at 2355. First, the court must determine whether the claims are drawn to a patent-ineligible concept. Id. If the answer is yes, the court must look to "the elements of the claim both individually and as an 'ordered combination'" to see if there is an '"inventive concept'-i.e., an element or combination of elements that is 'sufficient to ensure that the patent in practice amounts to significantly more than a patent upon the [ineligible concept] itself" Id. (alteration in original). "A claim that recites an abstract idea must include 'additional features' to ensure that the [claim] is more than a drafting effort designed to monopolize the [abstract idea]." Id. at 2357. Further, "the prohibition against patenting abstract ideas cannot be circumvented by attempting to limit the use of [the idea] to a particular ...

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