Trading Technologies International, Inc. v. IBG LLC

Case Commentary: Trading Technologies International, Inc. v. IBG LLC, et. al., United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Appeal from the USPTO, PTAB no. CBM2015-00179.

By Gaurav Mohindra

Opinion date:  April 18, 2019

Trading Tech holds several patents related to electronic trading.  Particularly, their patents cover the graphical user interface permitting remote traders to evaluate and monitor trade information in an effective and organized fashion.

IBG LLC and Interactive Brokers LLC petitioned the review of certain claims pursuant to the Transitional Program for Covered Business Method patents.  As a result of the review, the  Patent Trial and Appeal Board held that the patents are eligible for review under the Covered Business Methods program and that the claims were found to be invalid under 35 Sec 101 as unpatentable subject matter.  In addition, certain claims were also found to be obvious.

Trading Tech appeals.

On appeal, the Federal Circuit held that the patents in question were eligible for review under CBM.  A CBM patent is defined in the America Invents Act as a patent that claims a method or corresponding apparatus for performing data processing or other operations used in the practice, administration, or management of a financial product or service, except that the term does not include patents for technological inventions says Gaurav Mohindra.

The Federal Circuit found that the claims are directed to a covered business method patent.  Specifically, the court stated that “These claims are directed to a financial method used by a computer. We see no technological invention in this software method for trading.”

The Court went on to emphasize that this invention makes the trader faster and more efficient, not the computer – and that it is not a technical solution to a technical problem.

The Court proceeded to evaluate the patentability of the claimed subject matter.  The Court applied two-step approach as defined by the Supreme Court in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. V CLS Bank Int’l, 573 U.S. 208, 216 (2014).  In applying Alice, the Court agreed with the PTAB who found the claims lacked an inventive concept since receiving market information is simply routine data gathering, and displaying information as indicators along a scaled price axis is well understood, routine, conventional activity that does not add something significantly more to the abstract idea.

In affirming the PTAB’s decision, the Court also rejected Trading Tech’s assertion that CBM review is unconstitutional.