Stupid Patent of the Month: Using A Computer To Count Calories


This month’s silly patent, like many stupid patents before it, virtually claims the idea of the usage of a computer for fundamental calculations. U.S. Patent No. 6,817,863 (the ’863 patent) is titled “Computer software, approach, and device for tracking nutrients content material of consumables and for facilitating menu planning.” It claims the method of the use of a PC to track nutrients information like calorie or nutrition consumption. It is tough to consider an extra basic and trivial use for a computer.

The Haze

The ’863 patent is owned via a patent troll called Dynamic Nutrition Information, LLC. Dynamic Nutrition filed a lawsuit this month within the Eastern District of Texas accusing Australian agency Fatsecret of infringing the ’863 patent. Dynamic Nutrition had filed 4 different lawsuits. Consistent with a sample of nuisance litigation, every of those in advance suits settled in no time.


What “invention” does the ’863 patent purport to cover? Claim 1 of the patent is reproduced in complete underneath (with remarks in brackets):

A computer application comprising an aggregate of code segments saved in a computer-readable reminiscence and executable with the aid of a processor to offer nutrition content material facts associated with consumables, the laptop application comprising:

a code phase operable to receive and keep an input associated with intake of consumables, and to accomplice the enter with a calender [sic] date [i.E. Program a computer to track daily food intake]; and

a code segment operable to generate an interactive display screen, in which the interactive show display consists of— [i.E. Include some kind of user interface]

one or more lists of consumables and associated nutrition content material records, and [i.E. List food options and nutrition information]

a precise segment of past intake of consumables. [i.E. List past food intake]

In other phrases, application a computer to help people keep track of meals and calorie or diet intake.

The software for Dynamic Nutrition’s patent turned into filed on June eleven, 2001. By that point, computers were around for many years and there was not anything remotely sudden or innovative approximately programming a PC to keep tune of statistics—whether or not it’s nutrients facts or devices shipped or debts receivable or something. Nevertheless, the Patent Office takes an incredibly inflexible technique to whether or not a patent utility is plain. This manner that agencies frequently get patients on commonplace sense ideas (like taking pix towards white history or filming a yoga class).

Even leaving apart the difficulty of obviousness, the claims of the ’863 patent are invalid beneath the Supreme Court’s Alice v. CLS Bank decision (which struck down patents that simply claim the use of traditional computer systems to enforce an abstract concept). Indeed, the first enterprise to be sued by Dynamic Nutrition, Under Armour, filed a motion to dismiss the case below Alice. Under Armour talked about that the ’863 patent itself, again and again, emphasizes that its strategies can be carried out the use of any traditional computer or programming language. Given the energy of this argument, it’s miles unsurprising that the litigation settled before Dynamic Nutrition even filed a response.


Dynamic Nutrition’s patent is not even the best patent that claims using a PC for recurring meal planning. A patent troll known as DietGoal sued dozens of agencies with a meal planning patent. A court invalidated DietGoal’s patent underneath Alice because it claimed not anything more than the “conventional and quotidian obligations” of selecting food. The Federal Circuit affirmed that ruling. The good judgment of this decision applies straightforwardly to Dynamic Nutrition’s patent claims.

We lately launched our Saved By Alice assignment wherein we’re highlighting instances in which corporations attacked by way of stupid software program patients had been able to use the Alice decision to guard themselves. The Dynamic Nutrition litigation is yet every other example of why the Alice ruling is critical and how it can shield effective groups from patent trolls.

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