On April 12th, the Federal Circuit, in a per curiam order, denied SHzoom's motion to make the Trading Technologies opinion precedential. The order of course gave no reasons for the decision. Even so, the underlying decision is still a good one for patentees and applicants.
While not binding on the USPTO, it can nonetheless be argued as persuasive authority to examiners where the facts in the application "uniquely match" those in the case. Prosecutors should consider arguing this case to examiners where they have specifically claimed graphical elements that provide specific functionality.
The case is noteworthy because it is the first true "business method" patent that the Federal Circuit has upheld. The claims of the patents specifically recited steps for placing trade orders in electronic exchanges. Claim 1 of Trading Technologies' US 6,766,304 is shown here as example:
Claim 1 of Trading Technologies US 6,772,132, was also found eligible:
1. A method of placing a trade order for a commodity on an electronic exchange having an inside market with a highest bid price and a lowest ask price, using a graphical user interface and a user input device, said method comprising:
The court also upheld the system claim of the '132 patent:
CQG argues that: “[t]he Asserted Claims recite the abstract idea of placing an order for a commodity on an electronic exchange, based on observed market information, as well as updating the market information....If the claims simply provided for “setting, displaying, and selecting” data or information, CQG would be correct in its assessment that the claims are directed to an abstract idea. However, CQG ignores much of the details of the representative claims. Neither the claims of the ‘304 patent nor the claims of the ‘132 patent are directed to solely “setting, displaying, and selecting” data or information that is visible on the GUI device. (emphasis added).
The speed, quantity and variety of trades that can be made by a single trader over an electronic system are no doubt markedly different than those trades a single trader can make in the open outcry system. This Court concludes, in part, from the apparent differences between the analog versions of trading and electronic trading that the claims of the patents in suit are not directed to the abstract idea of “placing an order for a commodity on an electronic exchange.”
Even if this Court were to find that the claims of the patents in suit are directed to an abstract idea, the second part of the Alice framework, considering the claim elements “both individually and ‘as an ordered combination’ to determine whether the additional elements ‘transform the nature of the claim’ into a patent-eligible application,” leads this Court to one conclusion: the claims recite an inventive concept....In searching for the “inventive concept,” by analyzing the claim elements both individually and as an ordered combination, this Court need not delve further than identify the clause in the claims which has raised a flurry of commotion throughout these proceedings: the static price index. The ‘132 patent recites a “dynamic display being aligned with a static display of prices corresponding thereto,” and the ‘304 patent recites “each location in the bid display region corresponding to a price level along a common static price axis.” This element of the representative claims is what adds the “inventive concept” to the patents-in-suit. (emphasis in original).