A Federal Circuit judge presiding over a case in the Eastern District of Texas ruled that a medical records patent asserted against NextGen and others is invalid because it claims only an abstract idea.
U.S. Circuit Judge William Bryson granted NextGen’s motion to dismiss, holding the Preservation Wellness’ patent at issue covers nothing more than the basic concept of a medical records system, which he said is not patent-eligible under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Alice decision barring patents on computer-implemented abstract ideas.
The Court stated that it was persuaded that the claims of the ’271 patent are drawn to an abstract idea, and that the patent contained no addition features that would constitute a patentable inventive concept. According to the Court:
In the context of a patent that is clearly drawn to an abstract idea—securely managing medical records and providing patients and physicians with differential access to those records—the use of the conventional two-way firewall program for its intended purpose to serve the function set forth in the claims does not satisfy the “inventive concept” requirement of Alice and the Federal Circuit decisions that have followed Alice. Accordingly, the Court concludes that…the claims of the ’271 patent are not drawn to patent-eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.
The decision is decisive victory for NextGen, as the case was dismissed before the company had to answer the complaint. The suit claimed that the patent was infringed by NextGen’s Patient Portal program, which offers patients convenient access to their medical records. Preservation Wellness has also sued other companies offering online medical records.
"NextGen independently developed its Patient Portal, and is pleased to see its position vindicated" said Michael C. Newman, a Member in Mintz’s Intellectual Property Section. “The judge issued a particularly informative and thorough opinion which should send a message that these sorts of patents will be dismissed at the pleading stage of litigation, even in Texas.”
The patent-in-suit is U.S. Patent Number 7,640,271.
In addition to Mr. Newman, NextGen was represented by Michael Renaud, Division Head for the Intellectual Property Section and a Member of the firm’s Policy Committee and Marguerite McConihe, an attorney in the IP section of the firm.