A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Supreme Court to rule on software patents

The US Supreme Court [official website] agreed [order list, PDF] Friday to rule on a a key software patent case. The question before the court in Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International [docket; cert. petition, PDF] is: "Whether claims to computer-implemented inventions—including claims to systems and machines, processes, and items of manufacture—are directed to patent-eligible subject matter within the meaning of 35 USC § 101 [text] as interpreted by this Court?" The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] in May that an abstract idea is not patentable simply because it is tied to a computer system. Analysts say the ruling could have serious implications [Bloomberg report] for software and business method patents.

The patentability of business methods and software as "processes" is a controversial subject among practitioners. The Supreme Court ruled in 2010 in Bilski v. Kappos [JURIST report]] that business method patents may qualify as patentable subject matter but that a specific method for hedging risks in commodities trading is ineligible for patent protection because it is an abstract idea.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.