Possible Fed. Cir. Review of an Alice Case?


TDE Petroleum Data Solutions, Inc. (“TDE”) has filed an appeal of a District Court decision1 that invalidated TDE’s patent using the Supreme Court’s logic set forth in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, 134 S. Ct. 2347, 189 L. Ed. 2d 296, 82 L. Ed. 2d 296 (2014). 

TDE provides services that allow oil rig operators to monitor and organize global rig operations. TDE sued AKM Enterprise, Inc. (known as “Mobilize, Inc.”) for infringement of TDE’s U.S. Patent No. 6,892,812 for an "Automated Method and System for Determining the State of Well Operations and Performing Process Evaluation."

In September, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, invalidated the patent for lack of statutory subject matter as a result of Mobilize’s 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. The court applied the analysis of Alice Corp. to come to its invalidity decision.

As described in the Abstract of the patent, the patent is directed to an “automated method and system for determining the state of a drilling or other suitable well operations [including] storing a plurality of states for the well operation. Mechanical and hydraulic data is received for the well operation. Based on the mechanical and hydraulic data, one of the states is automatically selected as the state of the well operation. Process evaluation may be performed based on the state of the well operation.” 

The court found the claims to be directed to an abstract idea without an inventive concept or meaningful limitations. The court also declined to wait for a claim construction hearing to make its decision. 

TDE appealed2 the decision to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and recently filed its appeal brief.

I hope the Federal Circuit uses this case as an opportunity to provide more clarity regarding statutory subject matter and further explanation of the Alice analysis.


1 TDE Petrol. Data Solutions, Inc. v. AKM Enter., Civil Action No. H-15-1821, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121123 (S.D. Tex. Sept. 11, 2015). 

2 The appeal is case number 16-1004.  

Illustration:  “Mad Hatter arrives hastily in court to testify”, Alice in Wonderland, The Project Gutenberg EBook of Tenniel Illustrations for Alice in Wonderland, by Sir John Tenniel (Copyright expired).




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