On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh ruled that two patents held by Twilio Inc. were invalid under Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank because the patents fell under the category of abstract ideas implemented by a computer. This blog has highlighted several patents over the past few months that included an Alice analysis, and this case follows the same line of thinking.
The patents in question focus on securing telephone communications by determining which route a message will take through the telecommunications system. Judge Koh ruled that the patents described activities that humans have long performed, and thus transferring these processes to a computer does not make them patentable. In her ruling, she compared the patents to a consumer choosing a restaurant for dinner by looking at online reviews and to a consumer selecting the best method of sending a package by using feedback in online forums.
Twilio Inc. describes itself as a cloud based communication company that enables "phones, VoIP, and messaging to be embedded into web, desktop, and mobile software." Twilio initiated this lawsuit when it accused TeleSign Corp. of infringing two of its patents. Although these two patents were ruled to be invalid, this litigation appears to be far from over. Also included in Judge Koh's ruling was a finding that claims in three of Twilio's additional patents were not abstract. These patents are directed to specific methods of improving telephone processing technology. The attorney representing Twilio reiterated these three patents are still in litigation and that TeleSign Corp. still has five products that are accused of infringement, encompassed by thirty four claims asserted against TeleSign.
It should also be noted that Judge Koh struck down asserted claims in two other patents owned by Twilio on March 31. She struck these claims down under Alice as well.