On Friday the Supreme Court announced that it will take on a case that will examine the validity of software patents. The court will hear Alice v. CLS Bank, which will attempt to answer the question of whether so-called software patents are impermissibly abstract. In May of this year a divided federal court was deadlocked on the case, with five judges voting to strike down patent claims to a "computer system programmed to implement a financial transaction," and five judges ruling to uphold the claims. With no clear decision rendered, it was inevitable that the Supreme Court would have to hear the case.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has an excellent analysis of what is at stake here depending on how the Supreme Court rules. With Congress currently dealing with the Innovations Act (a bill meant to curb patent trolling) and the Supreme Court taking up the issue, we could see positive changes to how software patents are obtained and how they are enforced in the future. When it comes to games, vague software patents can drain companies of thousands or millions of dollars due to either out of court settlements or legal fees, so its important that this issue is settled in a real and meaningful way. We will have more on this story as it develops.