Federal Circuit Revives Gaming Animation Patents Invalidated Under Alice

September 16, 2016

The Federal Circuit has revived a pair of gaming animation patents (6,307,576; 6,611,278) previously invalidated under Alice. In a precedential opinion and order issued on September 13 in McRo v. Bandai Namco Games America, the court reversed a September 2014 grant of judgment on the pleadings by District Judge George Wu (2:12-cv-10322), ruling that the two asserted patents—which generally relate to automating a 3D character’s mouth movements in response to a voice script—are not directed to an abstract idea. In so holding, the Federal Circuit overturned Judge Wu’s conclusion that the patents precluded the entire field of rule-based lip synchronization, finding that the lower court had oversimplified the challenged claims. Rather, the court found that the claims were saved by the specific, detailed, and “unconventional” nature of the rules at issue, because those rules constituted a meaningful improvement of the underlying technology.

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