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Ultramercial v. Hulu I (657 F.3d 1323, 2011 Sep 15)

Decision Parameters

Decisions It Cites

    Gottschalk v. Benson [409 U.S. 63, 1972]
    Diamond v. Chakrabarty [447 U.S. 303, 1980]
    Parker v. Flook [437 U.S. 584, 1978]
    Diamond v. Diehr [450 U.S. 175, 1981]
    In re Alappat [33 F.3d 1526, 1994]
    Bilski v. Kappos [561 U.S. 593, 2010]
    Research Corp v. Microsoft [627 F.3d 859, 2010]

Decisions That Cite It

    Ultramerical v. Hulu II [722 F.3d 1335, 2013]

Rules & Quotes

[USEFUL] {1} "[Inventions with specific applications or improvements to technologies in the marketplace are not likely to be so abstract that they override the statutory language and framework of the Patent Act." Research Corp.,627 F.3d at 869. The 545 patent seeks to remedy problems with prior art banner advertising, such as declining clickthrough rates, by introducing a method of product distribution that forces consumers to view and possibly even interact with advertisements before permitting access to the desired media product. 545 patent col.2 11.14-18. By its terms, the claimed invention purports to improve existing technology in the market-place. By its terms, the claimed invention invokes computers and applications of computer technology.

[ABSTRACT] {2} Returning to the subject matter of the 545 patent, the mere idea that advertising can be used as a form of currency is abstract, just as the vague, unapplied concept of hedging proved patent-ineligible in Bilski. However, the `545 patent does not simply claim the age-old idea that advertising can serve as currency. Instead the 545 patent discloses a practical application of this idea. The 545 patent claims a particular method for monetizing copyrighted products, consisting of the following steps: (1) receiving media products from a copy-right holder, (2) selecting an advertisement to be associated with each media product, (3) providing said media products for sale on an Internet website, (4) restricting general public access to the media products, (5) offering free access to said media products on the condition that the consumer view the advertising, (6) receiving a request from a consumer to view the advertising, (7) facilitating the display of advertising and any required interaction with the advertising, (8) allowing the consumer access to the associated media product after such display and interaction, if any, (9) recording this transaction in an activity log, and (10) receiving payment from the advertiser. 545 patent col.8 11.5-48. Many of these steps are likely to require intricate and complex computer programming. In addition, certain of these steps clearly require specific application to the Internet and a cyber-market environment. One clear example is the third step, "providing said media products for sale on an Internet website." Id. col.8 11.20-21. And, of course, if the products are offered for sale on the Internet, they must be "restricted" — step four — by complex computer programming as well. Viewing the subject matter as a whole, the invention involves an extensive computer interface. This court does not define the level of programming complexity required before a computer-implemented method can be patent-eligible. Nor does this court hold that use of an Internet website to practice such a method is either necessary or sufficient in every case to satisfy § 101. This court simply find the claims here to be patent-eligible, in part because of these factors.

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