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The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of Amazon’s motion to dismiss for failure to recite patent eligible subject matter under section 101.  The claims at issue related to a method of pricing a product for sale which included the steps of testing a plurality of prices, gathering statistics regarding the consumers’ response to the prices, using that data to estimate sales outcomes, and automatically selecting a new price based on the estimated outcome.  The court held that the concept of offer-based price optimization is similar to other “fundamental economic concepts” found to be abstract ideas in other cases.  Moreover, the court found that the claims merely recite “well-understood, routine conventional activities,” either by requiring conventional computer activities or routine data-gathering steps and thus fail to transform the claimed abstract idea into a patent-eligible application.”  The claims were “exceptionally broad” and the specification broadly described the programming and hardware as “any sequence of instructions designed for execution on a computer system.”  Judge Mayer provided a concurring opinion to commend the district court for adhering to the Supreme Court’s instructions that patent eligibility is a “threshold” issue and deciding this matter early in the case on a motion to dismiss. 

OIP Technologies, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., Case No. 2012-1696 (June 11, 2015); Opinion by: Hughes, joined by Taranto, concurring opinion by Mayer; Appealed From: District Court for the Northern District of California, Chen, J.  Read the full opinion here

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