Twilio, Inc. v. Telesign Corporation

Twilio, Inc. v. Telesign Corporation, No. 16-6925 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 17, 2017) 


  • 8,738,051 | Entitled “Method and system for controlling message routing”
  • 9,226,217 | Entitled “System and method for enabling multi-modal communication”


Grant of Defendant’s 12(b)(6) motion as to ‘435 patent and ‘210 patent patent

Abstract Idea:


Something More:



  • Method and system for controlling message routing in the telephony messaging field. (‘051 patent)
  • System and method for enabling multi-modal communication in the telecommunication field (‘217 patent)


As to the ‘051 patent, the Court examined the claims’ “character as a whole”, beginning with claim 1, to determine what they were directed to, and conclude they were directed to selecting the best message routing option based on separately transmitted feedback, and then evaluated these to see if there was a “brick and mortar” physical analogue to this task. The Court concluded there was such analogues, for instance in the selection of a restaurant based on reviews from a third party source. The Court did not find any improvement in message routing technology, and this no improvement in computer functionality. The court reviewed the dependent claims and likewise concluded they were directed to abstract ideas. The court determined there was no inventive concept as the functions and components were purely conventional. They failed as an ordered whole: “selecting one channel for one type of message and a different channel for another type of message is not unconventional.” These claims were held invalid for lack of patentable subject matter.

As to the ‘217 patent, the Court found the claim was directed to enabling multi-modal communication by looking up and selecting one or more external communication provider(s) associated with a communication destination. Again using the “brick and mortar” evaluation, the Court again found this to be a well-known method of informing a user of that user’s options, for instance, how a common carrier provides customers with information on shipping options. These claims additionally fail as they are simply processes that may be performed mentally. There was no improvement in computer functionality because the technology was routine and conventional. The dependent claims were likewise directed to abstract ideas. Looking up options for external communication providers did not improve the communications or networking, and thus there was no improvement that could add an inventive concept. These claims were held invalid for lack of patentable subject matter.