Meal planning claims bite the dust under the Mayo/Alice framework

DietGoal Innovations LLC v. Bravo Media LLC

Case Number: 1:13–cv-08391–PAE

Judge Engelmayer found claims of DietGoal’s U.S. Patent No. 6,858,516 (“Method and system for computerized visual behavior analysis, training, and planning”) invalid under § 101, and so he granted Bravo’s motion for summary judgment of invalidity. He declined to rule on summary judgment of non-infringement.

One claim at issue reads as follows:

1. A system of computerized meal planning, comprising:

a User Interface;
a Database of food objects organizable into meals; and
at least one Picture Menus, which displays on the User Interface meals from the
Database that a user can select from to meet customized eating goal.  

The court said that the claims were sufficiently straightforward such that claim construction was not necessary.

Turning to the first prong of the Mayo/Alice framework, Judge Engelmayer found that the claims were directed to a patent-ineligible concept (i.e., laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas). He said that the claim’s concept is “computerized meal planning,” and that upholding the patent would thus “effectively grant a monopoly over an abstract idea.” Further, apparently deciding that the un-construed claims “could be performed in the human mind, or by a human using a pen and paper,” the court reiterated that the claims cover only an abstract idea.

Turning to the second prong of the Mayo/Alice framework, the court looked for additional elements sufficient to transform the nature of the claim. It found none. The patentee’s principal argument, according to the court, was that the claims’ use of computers makes the claims patentable. But the court looked for more than a generic computer, and it cited Mayo for the proposition that “[t]he introduction of a computer into the claims does not alter the analysis
at Mayo step two.” Confirming its opinion, the court said that Lumen View Tech. v., Inc., 984 F. Supp. 2d 189, 204 (S.D.N.Y. 2013), to which the parties had directed their briefing, closely parallels the issues here. In Lumen View, Judge Cote addressed a computerized matchmaking system, and concluded that “the addition of a general-purpose computer is insufficient to transform a patent-ineligible abstract idea into a patent-eligible application of that concept.”

In a related matter, DietGoal v. Time, Inc. (Case No. 1:13–cv-08381–PAE, Dkt. 131), where DietGoal asserted the parent patent, Judge Engelmayer gave the parties two weeks to identify any reasons why the Time case is not governed by the invalidation of the ´516 patent and why Time should not be dismissed under the principles of defensive collateral estoppel

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