Sipco, LLC v. Emerson Electric Co., No. 18-1635 (Fed. Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
Sipco’s patent explains communicating information from a previously unconnected, remote device to a central location. Rather than set up a direct communication link, the invention sets up a two-step communication path through intermediate nodes to use the nodes’ already-provided link (e.g., a public-switched telephone network (PSTN)) to the central location. The remote device communicates wirelessly to an intermediate node. For example, a user may wish to replace his bank and credit cards with a remote transmitting unit, having buttons each associated with a bank or credit card. When the user depresses a button, the remote unit transmits the user’s account and PIN information to, for example, the ATM, which then transmits the information over, for example, a PSTN to the central location.
The Patent Board found that the patent was not exempt from covered business method (CBM) review under the “technological invention” exception and found five claims patent-ineligible under 35 U.S.C. 101 and unpatentable for obviousness under 35 U.S.C. 103. The Federal Circuit vacated. The Board must consider “whether the claimed subject matter as a whole recites a technological feature that is novel and unobvious over the prior art; and solves a technical problem using a technical solution.” The court reversed the Board’s claim construction of “low power transceiver” and its finding that the patent does not satisfy the second part of the regulation defining “technological invention.” The court remanded for the Board to address section 42.301(b)’s first part.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on September 27, 2019.