Judge Woods Finds Dating App Patent Doesn’t “Match Up” With Section 101

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On March 6, 2020, United States District Court Judge Gregory H. Woods (S.D.N.Y.) granted Defendant Humor Rainbow Inc.’s (“Humor”) motion to dismiss. The Court found that the asserted claim of U.S. Patent 6,685,479 (“the ’479 patent”) was invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 as directed to “the abstract idea of a matchmaking algorithm.”

Plaintiff Ghaly Devices LLC (“Ghaly”) alleged that Humor’s OKCupid mobile application infringed claim 42 of the ’479 patent. Claim 42 “recites a device that requires a user to answer a series of questions, uses an algorithm to apply a personality profile system – such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator – to the user’s answers, matches this data with data corresponding to another user of a similar device, and calculates a degree of compatibility between the two users.”

The Court analyzed claim 42 of the ’479 patent under the two-step framework set forth in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, 573 U.S. 208 (2014).  The Court first determined that claim 42 of the ’479 patent “is directed to an abstract idea because it is drawn to the abstract ideas of human compatibility and matchmaking.” The Court noted that the process for matchmaking “is certainly not novel and has been performed by humans for a very long time.” Further, the Court reasoned that humans evaluate the relative degree of compatibility between two people and do not assess compatibility “only in binary terms.” The Court rejected Ghaly’s argument that humans are only capable of binary matchmaking.

Finding that claim 42 of the ’479 patent is directed to an abstract idea, the Court then analyzed whether the claim elements transform the nature of the claim into a patent eligible application. The Court found that they did not, because it was “simply a ‘series of mathematical calculations based on selected information and the presentation of the results.’” The collection and processing of data does not demonstrate any transformation to a patent eligible application. As such, the Court determined that claim 42 of the ’479 patent was invalid.

The case is Ghaly Devices LLC v. Humor Rainbow, Inc., No. 19-cv-2318-GHW (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 6, 2020)  

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