United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM T. HART, District Judge.
Vehicle Intelligence and Safety LLC ("VIS"), the plaintiff, brings this action against Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC and Daimler AG (collectively "defendants") for infringement of United States Patent No. 7, 394, 392 entitled "Expert System Safety Screening of Equipment Operators" (hereinafter the "'392 Patent) issued July 1, 2008 to Kevin Roe. Jurisdiction is proper in this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1338(a). This is an action arising under the United States patent statutes, 35 U.S.C. § 101 et seq.
The case is now before the court on defendants' Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings. Defendants state that, because the '392 Patent is based on the abstract idea that equipment operators can be tested to determine whether they are in any way physically or mentally impaired, the claims are abstract and not patent eligible.
The '392 Patent Abstract is as follows:
Methods and systems using one or more expert systems to screen equipment operators for impairments, such as intoxication, physical impairment, medical impairment, or emotional impairment, to selectively test the equipment operators and control the equipment (e.g., automobiles, trucks, industrial vehicles, public transportation vehicles, such as buses, subways, trains, planes, and ships, and dangerous machinery in general) if impairment of the equipment operator is determined. One embodiment is a method to screen an equipment operator for intoxication, using one or more expert systems. A second embodiment is a method to screen an equipment operator for impairment, such as intoxication, physical impairment, medical impairment, or emotional impairment, using one or more expert systems. A third embodiment is an equipment operator screening system to determine impairment, such as intoxication, physical impairment, medical impairment, or emotional impairment, using one or more expert systems.
The '392 Patent does not invent impairment detection methods or devices. The patent discloses eleven prior art patents for impairment detection systems which are incorporated by reference. The patent acknowledges that the prior art patents have been issued to detect driver impairment. Cols. 1-3. Many of these patents are linked to locking systems that prevent vehicle operation unless the operator passes a breath analyzer, voice analyzer, and/or skin sensor test. Cols. 2-3 (describing U.S. Patent Nos. 6, 886, 653; 6, 748, 301, & 4, 738, 333).
The Amended Complaint alleges that defendants have directly infringed at least claim 8 of the '392 Patent by selling each Mercedes-Benz vehicle that incorporates a feature of the vehicle referred to as ATTENTION ASSIST.
Claim 8 of the '392 Patent is an exemplary claim. It is as follows:
A method to screen an equipment operator for impairment, comprising:
screening an equipment operator by one or more expert systems to detect potential impairment of said equipment operator;
selectively testing said equipment operator when said screening of said equipment operator detects potential impairment of said equipment operator;
and controlling operation of said equipment if said selective testing of said equipment operator indicates said impairment of said equipment operator, wherein said screening of said equipment operator includes a time-sharing allocation of at least one processor executing at least one expert system.
Col. 15, ll. 30-43.
The description of the preferred ...