Section 101 Examples
Example 5: Digital Image Processing

This is an example provided by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for analyzing Section 101 patent subject matter eligibility issues. The example is one of the "Abstract Idea Examples" provided by the USPTO on January 27, 2015, and this example should be viewed in light of the introduction that was provided with it. The original PDF document is found here. The numbering of these examples is taken from Appendix 2 of the July 2015 Update on Subject Matter Eligibility.

The index for all of the examples provided by the Patent and Trademark Office is found on BitLaw's Section 101 Index.

Example 5: Digital Image Processing

The following claim was found ineligible by the Federal Circuit in Digitech Image Tech., LLC v. Electronics for Imaging, Inc., 758 F.3d 1344 (Fed. Cir. 2014). The patent at issue was U.S. Patent No. 6,128,415. The claim is directed to an abstract idea and does not have any additional elements that could amount to more than the abstract idea itself.

Background

In general, digital image processing involves the acquisition of an image at a source device (e.g., digital camera, camcorder, scanner, etc.), processing the image in a desired fashion and outputting the processed image at a destination device (e.g., monitor, printer, computer memory, etc.). However, all image devices, whether source devices or destination devices, impose some level of distortion of an image’s color and spatial properties. Some past solutions to address the distortion have used a “device profile,” which describes the color properties of both the source and destination devices, to enable a more accurate translation of the image’s pixel data into the independent color space across the source and destination devices. The inventor has expanded upon the prior device profile to capture both spatial as well as the color properties of the devices.

In this invention, as seen in Fig. 1 reproduced below, a device profile is created based on information from a source device 2, such as a digital camera, and from a destination device 6, such as a printer. The device profile is used to produce the processed image signal 18 from the input image signal 16. Spatial characteristic information 12, 20 and color characteristic information 14, 22 are provided from each device to an image processor 4, along with the input image signal 16. This characteristic information is used to generate first data relating to color information content of the image and second data relating to spatial information content of the image using known mathematical techniques, such as Fourier analysis to yield a Wiener Noise Power Spectrum (mathematical processing techniques). The generated data is incorporated into the device profile.

Representative Claim

10. A method of generating a device profile that describes properties of a device in a digital image reproduction system for capturing, transforming or rendering an image, said method comprising:
• generating first data for describing a device dependent transformation of color information content of the image to a device independent color space through use of measured chromatic stimuli and device response characteristic functions;
• generating second data for describing a device dependent transformation of spatial information content of the image in said device independent color space through use of spatial stimuli and device response characteristic functions; and
• combining said first and second data into the device profile.

Analysis

Claim 10: Ineligible.

The claim is directed to a statutory category, because a series of steps for generating data satisfies the requirements of a process (a series of acts) (Step 1: YES).

Next, the claim is analyzed to determine whether it is directed to a judicial exception. The claim recites a method of generating first data and second data using mathematical techniques and combini g the first and second data into a device profile. In other words, the claimed method simply describes the concept of gathering and combining data by reciting steps of organizing information through mathematical relationships. The gathering and combining merely employs mathematical relationships to manipulate existing information to generate additional information in the form of a ‘device profile,’ without limit to any use of the device profile. This idea is similar to the basic concept of manipulating information using mathematical relationships (e.g., converting numerical representation in Benson), which has been found by the courts to be an abstract idea. Therefore, the claim is directed to an abstract idea (Step 2A: YES).

The claim does not include additional elements beyond the abstract idea of gathering and combining data. Therefore, the claim does not amount to more than the abstract idea itself (Step 2B: NO). The claim is not patent eligible.