A federal judge in Delaware has voided three patents obtained by a Texas-based business technology management company involving its surge-pricing system for ride-sharing apps because the feature is less of a “technology problem” and more an issue of “human inefficiency that could be solved by automation.”
U.S. District Judge Gregory B. Williams, in a 17-page opinion issued Nov. 1, ruled that SurgeTech’s patent infringement case against Uber Technologies be dismissed because their patents “fail to provide an innovative concept” and instead “are directed to an abstract idea” that is not patentable.
SurgeTech, which is headquartered in Katy and represented in the litigation by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, sued Uber in 2022 claiming that the ride-sharing service, which includes Uber Eats and Uber Freight, infringed upon its three patents, which SurgeTech argued cover an invention that solves “the problem [that] exists in the context of e-commerce where inventory needs to be efficiently offered in a complex web of distribution channels.”
According to court documents, SureTech claims its patents cover an invention that helps navigate the world of online resellers, and where significant data can “place an undue burden on data processors.”
“But SurgeTech misses the point.” Judge Williams wrote. “Just because the Internet permits access to a large pool of data channels from which to pull information does not render the issue of organizing and analyzing said information a technological problem.”
The judge wrote that SurgeTech’s patent claims “seek to cure a problem that is not unique to technology — maintaining data from multiple sources and organizing it in such a way that the user can use that data to capitalize on the current state of supply and demand for their goods and/or services.”
SurgeTech is expected to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher represents Uber, including four lawyers from the firm’s Dallas office. Gibson Dunn partners Mark Reiter and Robert Vincent led the litigation with assistance from associates Ashbey Morgan and Audrey Yang.
The case is SurgeTech LLC v. Uber Technology, D. Del., No. 22-cv-882.