TRADING TECHNOLOGIES INT’L v. IBG LLC, decided April 30, 2019, Statutory Subject Matter

U.S. Patent No. 7,784,556 is directed to display of market information (profit and loss) on a screen for electronic trading (pages 2-4). The claims do not solve a technical problem with a technical solution, so were properly subjected to covered business method (CBM) review (pages 6-7).  Providing new information in an existing screen is not a technical solution to a technical problem, reflecting improvement for the trader and not the functioning of the computer (pages 6-7). For statutory subject matter, the claims are focused on providing a trader with additional information to facilitate market trades and are thus abstract (page 8). The specification teaches any trading screen, including the prior art one, as working well with the only difference being the content (page 8). The profit and loss calculation is automation of a manual process using a generic computer (page 8). Providing information in a way to help traders operate more quickly is not improving the computer (page 9). The claims were held to not be directed to statutory subject matter (page 10).

Hindsight: The background and summary may be drafted to indicate a technical problem and solution rather than providing information for trading without requiring other programs or mental calculation. It is difficult to claim helping users even in a new GUI way without being directed to an abstract idea, especially where the help works on any screen using known manual calculations.

This is Trading Tech’s second adverse decision on statutory subject matter in the last month.  Even though Trading Technologies had other GUI patents upheld as directed to patent eligible subject matter in a non-precedential opinion, GUI-based patents may continue to be difficult or risky under patent eligibility as the GUI is typically there to help the user, not make the computer work better. Any focus in the claims on how the GUI is generated rather than the end result GUI, on how the computer is improved, and/or novelty in the actual GUI outside the application context with a corresponding benefit outside that context may help.