Trading Technologies seeks to reverse another Patent Trial and Appeal Board decision

Maria Nikolova

Trading Technologies is seeking to reverse a PTAB ruling from August this year, which found that some of the claims about its ‘996 patent concerning “click based trading with intuitive grid display of market depth” are patent-ineligible.

Trading Technologies is aiming to overturn an August decision by the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) concerning its patent ‘996, titled “Click Based Trading with Intuitive Grid Display of Market Depth.” As per the latest filings with the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, Trading Technologies is appealing the PTAB decision. The case is captioned Trading Technologies Intl. v. IBG LLC (0:17-bcaag-02565).

In August 2017, PTAB broadly sided with Petitioners Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. (or IBG), Interactive Brokers LLC, TradeStation Group and TradeStation Securities. The Board determined that it had jurisdiction to issue the Final Written Decision based on its view that the ’996 patent is a covered business method (CBM) patent under § 18 of the American Invents Act, and that claims 1-20 are patent-ineligible.

The ’996 patent “is directed to the electronic trading of commodities.” The invention of the ’996 patent is a graphical user interface (GUI), named the Mercury display, and a method of using the Mercury display to trade a commodity.

In a covered business method (CBM) patent review, claim terms are given their broadest reasonable interpretation in light of the specification in which they appear and the understanding of others skilled in the relevant art.

Trading Technologies (aka the Patent Owner) does not dispute that the claims are directed to a financial product or service and, instead, contends that the ’996 patent is not a covered business method patent because the claims are not directed to a method for performing business operations.

The Board, however, found that the Patent Owner fails to explain sufficiently how the claimed subject matter recites a technological feature that is novel and unobvious over the prior art or solves a technical problem using a technical solution.

“The inventors have developed the present invention which overcomes the drawbacks of the existing trading systems and dramatically reduces the time it takes for a trader to place a trade when electronically trading on an exchange,” the patent states.

PTAB said the problem disclosed in the ’996 patent is the time it takes for a trader to manually enter trader orders on a market or exchange that is rapidly changing, so as to make a profit. This, however, is a financial issue or a business problem, not a technical problem.

In view of the foregoing, PTAB concluded that the ’996 patent is a covered business method patent.

In addition, when deciding on the patent ineligibility, the Board noted that the ’996 patent discloses that electronic exchanges are known to provide the market depth for display that is the inside market and a few orders away from the inside market. Furthermore, long before the ’996 patent, traders maintained books that plotted bids and asks (e.g., the market depth) along a price axis.

Given this, PTAB determined that placing an order based on displayed market information, such as the inside market and few other orders, as well as updating the market information is a fundamental economic and conventional business practice. The individual elements of the claim do not transform the nature of the claim into a patent-eligible application. They do not add significantly more to the abstract idea or fundamental economic practice.

“Contrary to Patent Owner’s argument, the claim simply recites the use of a generic GUI with routine and conventional functions”, PTAB said.

PTAB found that claim 1 of the ’996 patent is not directed to patent eligible subject matter. It also considered the other claims of the ’996 patent and ruled that, for similar reasons, the claims 2–20 are not directed to patent eligible subject matter.

In July this year, Trading Technologies filed another appeal against a PTAB decision concerning its patents. The patent at stake in the July case is ‘556. Entitled “System and Method for Displaying Order Information in Relation to a Derivative of Price”, the patent describes “a user interface for an electronic trading system that allows a remote trader to view trends for an item, which assists the trader to anticipate demand for an item”.

In its Final Written Decision, the Board found that claims 1–22 of the ’556 patent are patent-ineligible” and Trading Technologies is contesting the ruling.

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