This February, Garmin International got sued (PDF) by inventor Leigh Rothschild and his patent-holding company, Rothschild Connected Devices Innovations LLC (RCDI). RCDI had already sued 68 other companies. A few weeks later, Rothschild’s lawyer got in touch. He wasn’t interested in discussing the technology behind his client’s two patents, which describe making customized mixed beverages. Instead, he asked Garmin to get on board with Rothschild’s “early settlement program,” for a fast payout of $75,000.
Garmin didn’t pay up. Instead, the company’s outside counsel Rachael Lamkin sent a letter to Rothschild’s lawyer, explaining that his patents on a “system and method for creating a personalized consumer product” weren’t valid, and ran afoul of Section 101 of the US Patent laws. That’s the section that bars patents that are overly abstract, including “do it on a computer” type patents.
“Whether or not systems and methods for generating customized products are patent-eligible is a well-trodden question, repeatedly decided in the negative,” Lamkin informed him, citing several earlier legal cases.