On November 10, 2016, Judge David C. Godbey of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas held that two video upload patents were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The patents, owned by Youtoo Technologies, were asserted against Twitter, which acquired the Vine application in January 2013. Judge Godbey described the asserted patents as directed to a system of “receiving and distributing user-generated video content for distribution on television broadcasts and the Internet.”
This case began in March 2016 when Texas-based Youtoo claimed that the Vine application infringed three patents related to methods for capturing and distributing video. Youtoo contended that Twitter was originally going to partner with it, but instead copied its technology and implemented that technology into the Vine application. Twitter filed a motion to dismiss, challenging two of the asserted patents as too generic to be patent-eligible under the Alice standard. In its opposition to Twitter’s partial motion to dismiss, Youtoo relied on the Federal Circuit’s opinion in Enfish v. Microsoft Corp., where the Federal Circuit recognized that computer-related claims may not be directed toward an abstract idea if they focus on a specific asserted improvement in computer capabilities. Youtoo argued that its claims were similar to those in Enfish and that they improved the functioning of the computer itself.
Judge Godbey rejected the argument that Youtoo’s claims improved computer functionality. Instead, he found that the claims cover the process of transcoding a user-video into a predetermined format that can be broadcast on television or the Internet—something that was possible without the patents at issue. He cited a multitude of Federal Circuit cases where similar claims were also found to be abstract. Further, Judge Godbey found that the claims merely cite the use of generic hardware and fail to transform the claims into a patentable concept. He concluded that the patents were invalid under Section 101. Judge Godbey did, however, certify the order for immediate interlocutory appeal, noting that his ruling “involves a controlling question of law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion.” The patents-at-issue in Twitter’s motion to dismiss are U.S. Patent Nos. 8,464,304 and 8,601,506. Youtoo’s third patent, for which it still has live claims, is U.S. Patent No. 9,083,997.
Youtoo Techs. LLC v. Twitter Inc., No. 3:16-CV-00764-N (N.D. Tex. Nov. 10, 2016).