A method of providing advertising in connection with streaming media is not eligible for patenting, according to the latest decision of the Federal Circuit in the long-running Ultramercial v. Hulu patent saga.
Ultramercial’s patent claimed a method of distributing media over the Internet. Claim 1 included eleven steps. The steps described a process of associating ads with streaming media, allowing a consumer to access the media for free if the consumer first views the ad, and receiving payment from the advertiser after the consumer views the ad.
When the Federal Circuit first considered the claims in 2013, it found the claims to be patent-eligible. At the time, the court stated that ” it wrenches meaning from the word to label the claimed invention ‘abstract.'” The court’s 2013 decision also stated that “the claim appears far from over generalized, with
eleven separate and specific steps with many limitations and sub-steps in each category.”
Fast forward to 2014, after the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in Alice v. CLS Bank. The Alice decision established a two-part test for determining patent-eligibility: (1) Is the claim directed to an abstract idea? (2) If so, are there other elements in the claim sufficient to ensure that the claim amounts to significantly more than the abstract idea itself?
When faced with a new post-Alice appeal in the case, the Federal Circuit applied the new two-part test of Alice. This time, the court reached a different conclusion Continue reading