U.S. Supreme Court Denies Appeal in Land Union Ltd.

Categories: Criminal Law

U.S. Supreme Court Denies Appeal in Land Union Ltd. v. Move, Inc. Case

In a recent decision on Monday, November fifth, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider the appeal in Land Union Ltd. v. Move, Inc., et. al., originating from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This decision adds to the existing stack of patent-related cases the Court has chosen to bypass, leaving behind a landscape where clarity on patent eligibility remains elusive.

The appeal put forth by Real Estate Alliance (REAL) sought Supreme Court intervention on the issue of whether a structured combination of elements in a patent case falls within the parameters of being “surely knew, daily practice and regular” to an expert in the relevant field under Alice stage two—a matter of contention. A directive from the Supreme Court on this matter could have provided guidance, given the disparity among Federal Circuit judges regarding whether this Section 101 analysis is purely a matter of law or necessitates factual investigation.

The patents in question trace their origins back to the mid-1980s, credited to Mark Tornetta, who devised a method for extracting real estate information from multiple listing systems. His innovation streamlined the process of locating available properties by integrating computer technology and mapping functionalities, a departure from the conventional text-based search systems prevalent at that time.

This case dates back to 2007 when Move initiated a declaratory judgment in California’s Central District, seeking a ruling of invalidity and non-infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5032989 and U.S. Patent No. 4870576, both titled Real Estate Search and Location System and Method, concerning Move’s platforms like realtor.com. Subsequently, Real sued Move and other defendants for patent infringement. Despite multiple appeals to the Federal Circuit, the district court ultimately invalidated both patents under Section 101, while explicitly refraining from a definitive ruling on the ‘576 patent.

REAL’s argument in its appeal highlighted the omission of factual inquiries during the Alice test’s second stage, an omission contradicting recent Federal Circuit precedents. REAL contended that the courts overlooked crucial aspects of the case, asserting that the patents in question involve patentable enhancements to computer UI technology.

Furthermore, REAL stressed the lack of adequate findings to invalidate the ‘576 patent, as it was not subject to the full scrutiny under Alice and was invalidated based on REAL’s decision to merge it with a status report, depriving REAL of due process.

The denial of the appeal perpetuates the ambiguity surrounding Section 101 analysis, leaving patent eligibility criteria unresolved and contributing to the ongoing complexity in patent law.