Federal Circuit Finds Early Alice Dismissal Premature in Aatrix Tax Software Case

February 16, 2018

The Federal Circuit has reversed the grant of a Rule 12 Alice motion as premature in an infringement suit filed by Aatrix Software against Green Shades Software (2017-1452). In a February 14 majority opinion, the Federal Circuit ruled that the lower court had erred in part of its subject matter eligibility analysis and through its denial of a related motion to file an amended complaint. The proposed complaint, the majority found, alleged a variety of facts purportedly establishing the challenged claims’ inventive nature that would have “directly affect[ed]” the court’s Alice analysis if true. However, Circuit Judge Jimmie V. Reyna dissented in part, asserting that the majority’s approach contradicts the Federal Circuit’s precedent that the determination of subject matter eligibility is purely a question of law. The two opinions come less than a week after the Federal Circuit issued its decision in Berkheimer v. HP, holding that part of a summary judgment of invalidity under Alice had been premature, given that the patent owner had also raised questions of material fact related to inventiveness.

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