Section 101 Examples
Example 7: E-Commerce providing Transaction Performance Guaranty

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 7: E-Commerce providing Transaction Performance Guaranty

The following claim was found ineligible by the Federal Circuit in buySAFE, Inc. v. Google, Inc., 765 F.3d 1350 (Fed. Cir. 2014). The patent at issue was U.S. Patent No. 7,644,019. The claim is directed to an abstract idea and has additional elements that do not amount to significantly more than the abstract idea.

Background

The invention relates to methods for conducting reliable transactions in an e-commerce environment. More specifically, the invention relates to methods providing a performance guaranty in a transaction. When a safe transaction service provider receives a request from a first party for obtaining a transaction performance guaranty service, the safe transaction service provider processes the request by underwriting the first party. If the underwriting is successful, the transaction performance guaranty service is provided to the first party, which binds a transaction performance guaranty to an online commercial transaction involving the first party and guarantees the first party’s performance when the first party and second party enter the online transaction.

Representative Claim

1. A method, comprising:
• receiving, by at least one computer application program running on a computer of a safe transaction service provider, a request from a first party for obtaining a transaction performance guaranty service with respect to an online commercial transaction following closing of the online commercial transaction;
• processing, by at least one computer application program running on the safe transaction service provider computer, the request by underwriting the first party in order to provide the transaction performance guaranty service to the first party,
• wherein the computer of the safe transaction service provider offers, via a computer network, the transaction performance guaranty service that binds a transaction performance guaranty to the online commercial transaction involving the first party to guarantee the performance of the first party following closing of the online commercial transaction.

Analysis

Claim 1: Ineligible.

The claim is directed to a process, i.e., a series of steps or acts, for providing a performance guaranty. A process is one of the statutory categories of invention (Step 1: YES).

Next, the claim is analyzed to determine whether it is directed to a judicial exception. The claim recites the steps of creating a contract, including receiving a request for a performance guaranty (contract), processing the request by underwriting to provide a performance guaranty and offering the performance guaranty. This describes the creation of a contractual relationship, which is a commercial arrangement involving contractual relations similar to the fundamental economic practices found by the courts to be abstract ideas (e.g., hedging in Bilski). It is also noted that narrowing the commercial transactions to particular types of relationships or particular parts of that commercial transaction (e.g., underwriting) would not render the concept less abstract. Thus, the claim is directed to an abstract idea (Step 2A: YES).

Analyzing the claim as whole for an inventive concept, the claim limitations in addition to the abstract idea include a computer application running on a computer and the computer network. This is simply a generic recitation of a computer and a computer network performing their basic functions. The claim amounts to no more than stating create a contract on a computer and send it over a network. These generic computing elements alone do not amount to significantly more than the judicial exception (Step 2B: NO). The claim is not patent eligible.