The claimed methods of filtering, highlighting, and selecting portions of maps or other visual information for display had long been done by hand, and the claims failed to describe specific technological improvements making them patent-eligible.

Two IBM software patents related to graphical display technology were invalid for claiming ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101, a divided panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has held, affirming a district court’s judgment on the pleadings in favor of real-estate marketplace company Zillow, which IBM had accused of infringing the patents. One patent was directed to the abstract idea of responding to a user’s selection of a portion of a displayed map by simultaneously updating the map and a co-displayed list of items on the map, and the other was directed to the abstract idea of organizing and displaying visual information. Both tasks could be and had been done by hand, and the challenged claims described only the generic use of an ordinary computer without any specific technological improvements. A dissenting judge argued that one of the patents contained plausibly valid claims that recited technical improvements to a graphical user interface (International Business Machines Corp. v. Zillow Group, Inc., October 17, 2022, Hughes, T.).

Case date: 17 October 2022
Case number: No. 21-2350
Court: United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit

A full summary of this case has been published on Kluwer IP Law.


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