American Needle, Inc. v. Zazzle Inc., No. 15 C 3971, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 19, 2016) (Darrah, J.).
Judge Darrah granted defendant Zazzle’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss plaintiff American Needle’s patent claims to methods for selling objects such as caps over the internet because the patent was unpatentable pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 101.
The patent taught methods for allowing a customer to select an item, add some customizable elements to it and see how it would look online before purchasing it. The Court held that adding design elements to merchandise and displaying that merchandise was an abstract idea. And there was no inventive concept that made the abstract idea patentable. The claims were not tied to a particular machine and did not transform an article into something else. Furthermore, showing icons on a webpage was a conventional activity, not an inventive concept. The Court also noted that the Supreme Court had not applied a presumption of validity to the § 101 analysis.