The Northern District of Texas has invalidated a social media patent asserted by NetSoc, LLC against IAC/InterActiveCorp (Humor Rainbow (d/b/a OKCupid), Match Group, PlentyOfFish Media), a relatively rare Alice ruling in a venue that has historically seen far less patent litigation than some of its sister districts. On July 22, District Judge David C. Godbey ruled that the sole patent-in-suit is ineligible as directed to the abstract idea of “presenting results of data collection and analysis” without the addition of an inventive concept. Judge Godbey’s ruling runs counter to a notable, recent shift in Section 101 invalidation rates—which have dropped significantly since the Federal Circuit’s February 2018 rulings in Berkheimer and Aatrix, as detailed in RPX’s recent second-quarter update.
NetSoc, LLC has sued Microsoft (LinkedIn) (1:18-cv-12215), Quora (1:18-cv-11250), Teladoc Health (2:18-cv-00542), and Verizon (Yahoo) (1:18-cv-12267) over the same social networking patent that it asserted in earlier cases in the campaign against IAC/Interactive (Match Group) (filed in May) and Chegg (filed in November). The NPE targets the defendants’ websites/platforms, the accused features allowing users to locate and communicate with others (doctors, tutors, other professionals, etc.). NetSoc has twice dismissed without prejudice its case against Match Group, first to move the litigation to the Eastern District of Texas (from the Northern District), and second out of recognition that Match Group no longer maintains a physical office there.
NetSoc, LLC has filed a second case in the litigation campaign that it began by suing IAC/Interactive (Match Group) this past May. Filed in the Southern District of New York, the new complaint targets Chegg (1:18-cv-10262) with the same social networking patent over the provision of an online tutoring website, the accused features allegedly allowing users to search for tutors by name and subject area and to communicate with those tutors. A false start, that May case was filed in the Eastern District of Texas, only to be dismissed without prejudice and refiled in Northern District of Texas.