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buySAFE, Inc. v. Google, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

September 3, 2014

BUYSAFE, INC., Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
GOOGLE, INC., Defendant-Appellee

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Delaware in No. 11-CV-1282, Judge Leonard P. Stark.

STEPHEN M. HANKINS, Schiff Hardin LLP, of San Francisco, California, argued for plaintiff-appellant. With him on the brief was ALISON L. MADDEFORD. Of counsel on the brief were BRIAN D. SIFF and JAMES E. HANFT, of New York, New York, and DONALD E. STOUT, Antonelli, Terry, Stout & Kraus, LLP, of Arlington, Virginia.

ANDREW J. PINCUS, Mayer Brown, LLP, of Washington, DC, argued for defendant-appellee. With him on the brief were BRIAN A. ROSENTHAL, ANN MARIE DUFFY, and PAUL W. HUGHES. Of counsel on the brief were A. JOHN P. MANCINI and ALLISON LEVINE STILLMAN, of New York, New York.

Before TARANTO and HUGHES, Circuit Judges.[*]

OPINION

Page 1351

Taranto, Circuit Judge.

This case involves claims directed to creating familiar commercial arrangements by use of computers and networks. The district court held the asserted claims invalid because they cover subject matter ineligible for patenting under 35 U.S.C. § 101. buySAFE, Inc. v. Google, Inc., 964 F.Supp.2d 331 (D. Del. 2013). Under the approach to section 101 affirmed by the Supreme Court in the recent decision in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int'l, 134 S.Ct. 2347, 82 L.Ed.2d 296, 189 L.Ed.2d 296 (2014), the district court's holding is correct.

Background

U.S. Patent No. 7,644,019, owned by buySAFE, Inc., claims methods and machine-readable media encoded to perform steps for guaranteeing a party's performance of its online transaction. In 2011, buySAFE sued Google, Inc., in the District of Delaware, alleging that Google infringes claims 1, 14, 39, and 44 of the '019 patent. Google moved for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the asserted claims are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Claim 1 is an independent method claim, with claim 14 dependent on it. Claim 39 is an independent claim to a computer-readable medium encoded with instructions to carry out the Claim 1 method, with claim 44 a dependent claim bearing the same relation to claim 39 as claim 14 does to claim 1. The parties agreed that the analysis of claims 1 and 14 would control the analysis of claims 39 and 44, so we discuss only the method claims here.

Claim 1 recites a method in which (1) a computer operated by the provider of a safe transaction service receives a request for a performance guarantee for an " online commercial transaction" ; (2) the computer processes the request by underwriting the requesting party in order to provide the transaction guarantee service; and (3) the computer offers, via a " computer network," a transaction guaranty that binds to the transaction upon the closing of the transaction. Specifically:

1. A method, comprising:

Page 1352

receiving, by at least one computer application program running on a computer of a safe transaction service provider, a request from a first party for obtaining a transaction performance guaranty service with respect to an online commercial ...

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