July 5, 2018

Concrete Allegations that Claim Elements are Not Well-Understood, Routine, or Conventional Prevents Dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6)

By Bryan K. Wheelock, Principal

In Aatrix Software, Inc. v. Green Shades Software, Inc., [2017-1452] (June 1, 2018), the Federal Circuit denied rehearing en banc of the panel decision.  Judge Moore, concurring, explained that Aatrix stands for the unremarkable proposition that whether a claim element or combination of elements would have been well-understood, routine, and conventional to a skilled artisan in the relevant field at a particular point in time is a question of fact.

As this is a factual question, the normal procedural standards for fact questions must apply, including the rules in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure applicable to motions to dismiss or for summary judgment and the standards in the Federal Rules of Evidence for admissions and judicial notice.

Turning to the case at hand, Judge Moore noted that when patent eligibility is challenged in a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), the Court must apply the well-settled Rule 12(b)(6) standard which is consistently applied in every area of law: A motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim must be denied if “in the light most favorable to the plaintiff and with every doubt resolved in the pleader’s favor — but disregarding mere conclusory statements — the complaint states any legally cognizable claim for relief.”

Judge Moore noted that the second amended complaint in Aatrix included “concrete allegations … that individual elements and the claimed combination are not well-understood, routine, or conventional activity” and that nothing in the limited record at the Rule 12(b)(6) stage refuted these allegations, so there was no legal basis to affirm the dismissal of the complaint.