| Karen Cassidy Selvaggio
Before Prost, Reyna, and Taranto. Appeal from the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

Summary: An abstract idea cannot be used to supply an inventive concept that renders a claim “significantly more” than an abstract idea.

ChargePoint filed a complaint for patent infringement against SemaConnect, asserting four patents relating to networked electric vehicle charging stations connected to a local power grid. In response to the complaint, SemaConnect filed a motion to dismiss based on 35 U.S.C. § 101. The district court granted SemaConnect’s motion to dismiss, holding that the asserted patent claims were directed to ineligible subject matter and dismissed the case with prejudice. ChargePoint appealed.

The Federal Circuit affirmed after employing the two-step Mayo/Alice analysis. At step one, the Federal Circuit determined that the asserted claims are directed to the abstract idea of communication over a network for interacting with a device, applied to the context of electric vehicle charging stations, and would preempt the entire industry’s ability to use networked charging stations. At step two, ChargePoint argued that its network-controlled charging stations provide an unconventional solution to technological problems in the field and thus contain an inventive concept that renders the claims “significantly more” than an abstract idea. However, the Federal Circuit held that the alleged inventive concept, network control, is an abstract idea itself and thus cannot be used to supply the inventive concept.

The Federal Circuit also found no error in the district court’s decision to dismiss ChargePoint’s complaint with prejudice because, amongst other things, ChargePoint never sought leave to amend pre-judgment, never filed a proposed amended complaint, and failed to identify any alleged facts that could be pleaded to cure the deficiencies in its complaint.


Editor: Paul Stewart