From Inside Radio:
Westwood One and Local Radio Networks are in court fighting over whether LRN infringed on a pair of patents WWO has held for more than a decade. In the latest development, LRN argues that the claims made in WWO’s patents are invalid because they use only existing, conventional devices and networks and don’t transform an “abstract idea” into a patent-eligible invention.
Indiana-based LRN provides 24/7 music formats to affiliates. In early March, WWO sued LRN alleging that LRN’s Radio Velocity Control hardware and software infringe on WWO-patented technology that allows it to record different content for different affiliates and then transmit it to the individual affiliates they are intended for.
LRN asserts that the patents WWO claims are invalid in the first place. LRN cites Section 101 of the Patent Act which provides that “an issued patent may be ruled invalid, if it is deemed to be drawn to an abstract idea.”
Without getting too deep into the weeds of patent law, “abstract ideas” is one of three exceptions to a patent a being considered eligible by the Supreme Court, even though it has refused to define the term “abstract idea.”
In this case, LRN says the claims asserted by WWO in the two patents are directed to “an abstract idea.” One of them pertains to directing a voice artist to record localized content which LRN says is “the abstract idea of organizing human activity.” The other patent in question deals with opertaimg a radio network using a content delivery system, which LRN says is an abstract idea of collecting, storing and presenting data.
In both cases, the WWO patents use only existing, conventional devices and networks like computers, satellites and automation systems to implement their abstract idea, and lack an “inventive concept” and therefore don’t satisfy earlier case law pertaining to similar patent claims, the filing asserts.
In the 25-page filing, LRN claims that every step in the process of sending descriptions of localized content for recording by a voice artist can be carried out by conventional methods like fax or email and thus qualify as an abstract idea. The same goes for using content delivery systems to operate a radio network, LRN argues. In both cases, the WWO patent claims lack an “inventive concept” and thus fail the test for patent eligibility. And since WWO’s claims don’t describe any technical details, the claims “are directed to nothing more than a ‘result-oriented abstract idea,” the filing argues.
Westwood One has until June 15 to reply to Local Radio Network’s brief. LRN then has two weeks after that to file its reply.