CHARGEPOINT, INC. v. SEMACONNECT, INC., decided March 28, 2019, Statutory Subject Matter

U.S. Patent Nos. 8,138,715, 8,432,131, 8,450,967, and 7,956,570 are directed to networked charging stations for electric vehicles (pages 2-5).  For step one in patent eligibility consideration, communicating requests to a remote server and receiving a response is an abstract idea (page 9).  The claim must be directed to that abstract idea to be abstract (page 9).  To understand the problem being solved by the claims, the specification is consulted and teaches that server communications provide for driver, business, and utility interaction (page 11).  While network-controlled charge stations are included in the idea, the station itself is not improved and no technical difficulty is overcome (pages 11-12).   The claim is directed to the abstract idea of communication over a network as the claim language preempts any use of networked charging stations (pages 12-13).  For step two, the inventive concept solving the problems of station availability, ability to locate available stations, paying for station use, and controlling of the station is networking the stations (page 23).  The abstract idea itself cannot supply the inventive concept rendering the claim as significantly more (page 23).  The claims are not patent eligible (page 23).

Hindsight:  Patent protection may be lost by claiming the result rather than “how” the result is reached.  The “how” should be more than adding an interface or generic computing to implement the networked communications.  Directing the claims to how the station function is improved may help.  Of course, claiming how allows others to reach the result in different ways, reducing the value of the patent.  The point of these patents was likely to protect the general business model of Chargepoint.