District Judge Alan D. Albright has made no secret of plans to make the Western District of Texas the new hotbed for patent litigation following his confirmation there in September 2018. Since then, he has taken steps to make the district more attractive to patent litigants, including a standing order implementing rules designed to appeal to both plaintiffs and defendants. The apparent result has been an uptick in NPE litigation in the Western District. Now, Judge Albright has issued what seems to be his first Alice ruling in one such NPE case, denying an eligibility challenge brought by HomeGoods against IPValuation Partners, LLC (d/b/a IPVal) affiliate eCeipt LLC. Judge Albright held that the challenged patent is directed to a technological improvement, and thus not to an abstract idea, for reasons similar to the Federal Circuit’s holdings in Enfish v. Microsoft and Finjan v. Blue Coat Systems. Dismissal would also be precluded at Alice step two under Berkheimer and Aatrix, held Judge Albright, finding that the plaintiff had raised a material dispute of fact as to whether the claims contain an inventive concept.
eCeipt LLC, a Texas NPE affiliated with IP Valuation Partners LLC (IPVal), has resumed its retail receipt campaign, filing four new lawsuits against Ann (2:16-cv-01105), Best Buy (2:16-cv-01106), Caleres (2:16-cv-01111), and Recreational Equipment (2:16-cv-01112). These latest cases are eCeipt’s first new litigation since the August dismissal of its case against GNC Holdings (2:16-cv-00419), which followed the dismissal of all other suits in the campaign in January-March. The plaintiff’s newest complaints assert the same, single patent-in-campaign (8,643,875), which generally relates to point-of-sale (POS) kiosks that allow a customer to select a printed or emailed store receipt. Defendants are each accused of infringement through POS systems that offer both types of receipt.