UNIVERSITY OF FL RESEARCH FOUNDATION v. GENERAL ELECTRIC CO., decided Feb. 26, 2019, Statutory Subject Matter

U.S. Patent No. 7,062,251 is directed to integrating physiologic data from a bedside machine (pages 5-6).  Claim 1 recites receiving data from machines, converting the data from the machine format to into a machine independent format at a remote location, processing, and presenting results on a bedside graphical user interface (page 6).  The specification characterizes the invention as replacing a pen and paper approach with device driver technology, resulting in fewer errors and conserving of human resources (pages 7-8).  Claim 1 is directed to mere automation with a computer, so is directed to an abstract idea (page 8).  There is no teaching of an improvement in the way the computer operates (pages 8-9).  In the specification, the receipt from machines uses any known connector with conversion being by any computer, and no specific graphical user interface is recited (pages 8-9).  The claims and specification do not disclose how the drivers perform the conversion, only discussing drivers in functional terms of what they accomplish (pages 9-10).  With no technical details for tangible components, claim 1 is directed to abstract ideas (page 10).  Since the claims do no more than instructing implementing the abstract idea on a generic computer, even if remote from the bedside devices, substantially more than the abstract idea is not recited (pages 10-11).

Hindsight: Details on the drivers and how they operate may have helped, but would have also narrowed the claims.  It may be important to be able to point to limitations in the claims showing “how” a function is achieved, with support in the specification.  Characterizing the invention in comparison to manual may not help.  The new patent office guidelines focused on a practical implementation may have allowed these claims while the Federal Circuit would not.