Thales Visionix Inc.. v. United States, No. 15-5150 (Fed. Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
TVI’s patent discloses an inertial tracking system for tracking the motion of an object relative to a moving reference frame. Inertial sensors, such as accelerometers and gyroscopes, measure specific forces associated with changes in a sensor’s position and orientation relative to a known starting positionl they are used in various applications, including aircraft navigation and virtual reality simulations. When mounted on a moving object, inertial sensors can calculate the position, orientation, and velocity of the object in three-dimensional space, based on a specified starting point, without any other external information. The Federal Circuit reversed the Claims Court’s determination that certain claims were directed to patent-ineligible subject matter, 35 U.S.C. 101. The claims are not directed to an abstract idea, but specify a particular configuration of inertial sensors and a particular method of using the raw data from the sensors in order to more accurately calculate the position and orientation of an object on a moving platform. The mathematical equations are a consequence of the arrangement of the sensors and the unconventional choice of reference frame in order to calculate position and orientation. Far from claiming the equations themselves, the claims seek to protect only the application of physics to the unconventional configuration of sensors as disclosed.