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The court affirmed the district court’s holding that the claims at issue recited patent-eligible subject matter and therefore are not invalid under § 101.  Claim 19 of the ’399 patent is directed to a “system useful in an outsource provider serving web pages offering commercial opportunities” wherein, when a user clicks on a link on a host web page, the resulting web page would be a new web page created by a computer server that displays information from both the web page identified by the clicked link and the host web page.  Thus, for example, the user is given the impression that she is viewing web pages served by the host site, rather than the third party merchant whose link she clicked.

The court distinguished the claims at issue from the claims that were held to be directed to non-patent-eligible subject matter in Alice, Ultramercial, buySAFE, Accenture, and Bancorp.  Unlike the claims in those cases, which “were directed to nothing more than the performance of an abstract business practice on the Internet or using a conventional computer,” the claims here are “necessarily rooted in computer technology in order to overcome a problem specifically arising in the realm of computer networks,” i.e., the claims “specify how interactions with the Internet are manipulated to yield a desired result—a result that overrides the routine and conventional sequence of events ordinarily triggered by the click of the hyperlink.”  Further, the claims are not so broad as to attempt to preempt every application of the idea of increasing sales by making two web pages look the same, but rather it recites a specific way to achieve that idea. 

The dissent believes that the claims are not patent-eligible under § 101, because they simply describe “an abstract concept—that an online merchant’s sales can be increased if two web pages have the same ‘look and feel’—and apply that concept using a generic computer,” i.e., the solution offered by the claim is entrepreneurial rather than technological.  Additionally, the breadth of the claims are “vastly disproportionate to their minimal technological disclosure.”

DDR Holdings, LLC v. Hotels.com, L.P., Case No. 2013-1505 (December 5, 2014); Opinion by: Chen, joined by Wallach; dissent by Mayer; Appealed From: Eastern District of Texas, Gilstrap, J.  To read the full opinion, click here.

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