Federal Circuit Partially Reverses Alice Invalidation in Acacia Suit Against Google

October 12, 2018

The Federal Circuit has overturned part of a Delaware court’s ruling in a case against Google that invalidated four Acacia Research Corporation spreadsheet patents under Alice. In an October 9 decision, the Federal Circuit held that all challenged claims from two of those patents (and all but one from a third) were not directed to patent-ineligible subject matter, ruling instead that they described technical solutions and improvements to problems found in prior art computer spreadsheet systems rather than claiming the abstract idea of “using notebook-type tabs to label and organize spreadsheets”. However, the decision upheld the lower court’s invalidation of a single claim from the third patent related to spreadsheet tabs and of all challenged claims from a fourth patent related to tracking changes in spreadsheet cells. The patents at issue are among eight that have been asserted by Acacia subsidiary Data Engine Technologies LLC in a litigation campaign launched in 2012.

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