RCT v. Microsoft – Fed. Cir. Attempts to Shift Focus Away from MOT Test

Clement S. RobertsThe following post comes from Clement S. Roberts (Partner at Durie Tangri and Practice Center Contributor).

On December 8 the Federal Circuit issued its first post-Bilski opinion on patentable subject matter when it decided Research Corporation Technologies Inc. v. Microsoft .

In RCT the court was asked whether RCT’s patents on digital image halftoning were directed to patentable subject matter.  Digital image halftoning is a technique for displaying tones (either shades of grey or colors) that lie between those that a monitor or printer can natively produce by creating a matrix of dots that blur together when viewed from a distance.  The patent was directed to a method for creating a halftoned image using a mask (essentially a series of prearranged dots of known values which can be compared to the pixels in a given image) and, in particular, for creating an improved mask through the use of a particular kind of mathematical operation.  For example, claim 1 of one of the two relevant patents called for:

A method for the halftoning of gray scale images by utilizing a pixel-by-pixel comparison of the image against a blue noise mask in which the blue notice mask is comprised of a random non-deterministic, non-white noise single valued function which is designed to produce visually pleasing dot profiles when thresholded at any level of said gray scale images. (more…)