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Berkheimer v. Hewlett-Packard Co.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

December 12, 2016

Steven E. Berkheimer, Plaintiff,
v.
Hewlett-Packard Company, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          John Z. Lee United States District Judge

         Plaintiff Steven E. Berkheimer (“Berkheimer”) has sued Defendant Hewlett-Packard Company (“HP”) under 35 U.S.C. § 1 et seq., alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7, 447, 713 (“the '713 Patent”). HP has moved for summary judgment on the ground that the asserted claims of the '713 Patent cover patent-ineligible subject matter and are therefore invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. For the reasons provided herein, the Court grants HP's motion.

         Factual Background

         Berkheimer is the owner of the '713 Patent, which describes methods for digitally processing and archiving files. Pl.'s Resp. HP's SMF, Ex. 2 (“'713 Patent”) col.1 ll.10-11, ECF No. 164-2. The methods involve “object-oriented representations” of documents and graphics that are “manipulated and then entered into an archival database with minimal redundancy.” Id. at col.1 ll.15-19, col.2 l.38. For example, using these methods, a computer program can recognize the various components of a document (such as a headline, text block, or image) and can archive the document by storing data corresponding to each of these separate components. Id. at cols.19-28 (diagramming an example of this archiving process). Once a document has been archived in this manner, multiple users can “work on different components of a document at the same time and from different locations.” Id. at cols. 39-40. And when multiple documents in the archive share a common component (for example, the same text block), a user can edit those documents simultaneously with a one-time edit to the common component that they share. Id. at cols. 41-42. These features of the claimed methods “promote efficiency, ” “achieve object integrity, ” and “reduce turnaround time and costs” in the digital archiving process. Id. at col.2 ll.38-52, col.3 ll.40-50.

         Berkheimer asserts Claims 1-7 and 9 of the '713 Patent against HP. Def.'s SMF ¶¶ 7-8, ECF No. 157.[1] Claim 1 is an independent claim, and Claims 2-7 and 9 are dependent claims deriving from Claim 1. See '713 Patent col. 47. Claim 1 reads as follows:

1. A method of archiving an item in a computer processing system comprising:
presenting the item to a parser;
parsing the item into a plurality of multi-part object structures wherein portions of the structures have searchable information tags associated therewith;
evaluating the object structures in accordance with object structures previously stored in an archive;
presenting an evaluated object structure for manual reconciliation at least where there is a predetermined variance between the object and at least one of a predetermined standard and a user defined code.

Id. at col.47 ll.9-21.

         During a claim construction hearing, the parties asked the Court to interpret the terms “parser, ” “parsing, ” and “evaluating, ” each of which appears in Claim 1. See Berkheimer, 2015 WL 4999954, at *1. Based on the hearing, the Court concluded that the term “parser” means “a program that dissects and converts source code into object code”;[2] “parsing” means “using a program that dissects and converts source code into object code to dissect and convert”; and “evaluating” means “analyzing and comparing.” Id. at *12. The parties also asked the Court to interpret the phrase “evaluating the object structures in accordance with object structures previously stored in an archive, ” which appears in the third step of Claim 1. The Court defined this phrase to mean “analyzing the plurality of multipart object structures obtained by parsing and comparing it with object structures previously stored in the archive to determine if there is variance between the object and at least one of a predetermined standard and a user defined rule.” Id.

         Claims 2-7 and 9 are dependent claims that add various steps and limitations to the method recited in Claim 1. They read as follows:

2. The method as in claim 1 wherein the respective structure can be manually edited after being presented for reconciliation.
3. The method as in claim 1 which includes, before the parsing step, converting an input item to a standardized format for input to the parser.
4. The method as in claim 1 which includes storing a reconciled object structure in the archive without substantial redundancy.
5. The method as in claim 4 which includes selectively editing an object structure, linked to other structures to thereby effect a one-to-many change in a plurality of archived items.
6. The method as in claim 5 which includes compiling an item to be output from the archive, wherein at least one object-type structure of the item has been edited during the one-to-many change and wherein the compiled item includes a plurality of linked object-type structures converted into a predetermined output file format.
7. The method as in claim 6 which includes compiling a plurality of items wherein the at least one object-type structure has been linked in the ...

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