ANCORA TECHNOLOGIES, INV. v. HTC AMERICA, INC., decided Nov. 16, 2018, Statutory Subject Matter

U.S. Patent No. 6,411,941 is directed to restricting software operation using a key code for the computer and a license record for the application (pages 2-3).  The improvement is in storing the license record as part of the BIOS memory (pages 3-4).  The USPTO appeal board declined to review as the claims are a technical solution to a technical problem and within the technological inventions exception for review (page 6).  The district court dismissed as directed to non-statutory subject matter since the claims are not directed to how usage of BIOS leads to the improvement (pages 6-7).  The Federal Circuit noted the improvement of security is patentable if a specific technique that departs from earlier approaches to solve a specific computer problem (pages 10-11).  The claim recites how the improvement occurs in an unexpected way – storage of the license record in BIOS memory (pages 10-11).  The solution is for a computer-functionality problem (page 11). 

Hindsight:  A focus in the specification on an improvement, that improvement solves a computer-related problem, and how the improvement is performed with a link to specific component may save the day.  How the improvement is performed may need to be novel and not obvious.  The claim should include how the improvement is performed.  The claim may not need to recite how the solution leads to the improvement.