Judge Albright Takes a First Trip Through the Alice Looking Glass, Denying Eligibility Challenge Against IPVal Patent

June 7, 2019

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.

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