In its newly filed petition for writ of certiorari, Ultramercial asks the U.S. Supreme Court:
Whether computer-implemented or software-based claims, reciting novel or non-routine steps with no conventional counterparts, still cover only patent-ineligible “abstract ideas” as this Court has interpreted 35 U.S.C. § 101?
Ultramercial v. Hulu (Supreme Court 2015) (Ultramercial Petition).
U.S. Patent No. 7,346,545 is directed to a method of distributing copyrighted media content over the internet with a consumer receiving a copyrighted product in exchange for watching an advertisement that pays for the content. Claim 1 is an eleven-step process that spells out the method for accomplishing the aforementioned goals.
The district court originally assigned to the case found the patent invalid as unduly claiming the abstract idea of “advertising as currency.” The subsequent appellate history is interesting. Initially, the Federal Circuit reversed – finding that the claimed computer programming elements were sufficient to limit the claims in concrete wasy and to avoid the problem of preemption of an entire field or idea. However, after being twice vacated (Following Bilski and Alice) the Federal Circuit changed its opinion – now finding the claims to be lacking patent eligibility.