In a January 22, 2016 decision, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) denied institution of covered business method (CBM) review of an ATM patent under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Petitioner NRT Technology sought review of U.S. Patent No. 6,081,792, which relates to a modified ATM terminal that allows a user to obtain cash from a bank account through one of multiple alternative networks. According to the patent, when a cardholder attempts to withdraw money via an ATM network and fails because she has exceeded her daily limit, the request is routed through a different type of transaction, such as a point-of-sale (POS) network. When the POS transaction is approved, the ATM terminal informs a nearby money location—for example, a hotel concierge or a cash window at a casino—of the approved transaction, and the cardholder obtains the money from that location instead of the ATM terminal itself.
The Board denied institution of CBM review. Although NRT argued that the claims were directed to abstract ideas, it did not specify what those abstract ideas were. The Board found that NRT implicitly identified them as “providing money to an account holder” and “trial-and-error.” Yet the Board found these to be an oversimplification: “[t]he challenged claims are not directed simply to the idea of providing money to an account holder or using trial-and-error until success is achieved. Rather, the claims are directed to particular methods of providing money to an account holder using an ATM via a POS transaction after an ATM transaction has failed.” The Board also faulted NRT for failing to consider the claim elements as ordered combinations to determine whether any additional elements transformed the claims into a patent-eligible application of an abstract idea. Because NRT failed to show that the claims were more likely than not patent-ineligible, the Board denied CBM review.
Petition for Covered Business Method Patent Review by NRT Technology Corp., CBM2015-00167 (PTAB January 22, 2016).