A recent Federal Circuit decision, Cellspin Soft, Inc. v. Fitbit, Inc. (2019), reversed a dismissal of a patent complaint at the pleading stage, based on a finding that the patent claims were “abstract.” Central to the reversal was that complaint allegations were used to bolster the language of the patent claims and explain how they contained an “inventive concept.”
The decision will have a significant impact on companies involved in litigating patents covering business methods and software related patents, which are often asserted by non-practicing entities, the so-called “patent trolls.” One can expect patent trolls to now attempt to bolster questionable patents by allegations in their complaints, in an attempt to come within the holding of Cellspin and avoid dismissal.
In response, parties seeking early dismissal of patent suits will often need to distinguish Cellspin. In that case, the Federal Circuit’s holding rested on the fact the allegations in the pleadings were tied to specific sections of the patent claims and explicated how they contain inventive concepts. Whether the allegations in another case are similarly focused or not will determine whether Cellspin saves the claims from dismissal.