Supreme Court Decision Questions the Validity of Some Computer and Software Patents

While a new Supreme Court decision may cut down the number of valid software patents, experts generally agree that it will not eliminate them altogether. The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that a patent related to a centuries-old financial concept was invalid because it was an abstract idea, even when the concept is implemented through a computer system.

The unanimous 9-0 decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International narrows the scope of inventions that can be available for patents and is at least a minor victory for companies that have complained about the use of vague software, computer, a process patents in litigation.

The case involved a patent for escrow services held by Alice Corp., a shell company that many have deemed a "patent troll."

CLS Bank, which runs its own currency transaction network, argued that Alice’s patent described a settlement mechanism that banks have used for centuries. The court agreed with CLS Bank.

"We conclude that the method claims, which merely require generic computer implementation, fail to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention," wrote Justice Clarence Thomas in the court's decision.

Thomas’s opinion drew heavily on the reasoning from another recent case, called Myriad Genetics, in which the court invalidated patents over human genes. Both opinions concluded that applying familiar techniques to "non-patentable things" does not result in a patentable invention.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor also wrote a one-paragraph concurring opinion, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Stephen Breyer, suggesting that all business methods are invalid to begin with.

You can check out the decision in its entirety here.

Source: GIGA OM

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  1. 0
    Scott1701c says:

    I slightly disagree. If someone were to create a true AI program, one that really thinks for itself, that should be something patentable. It would be a truly new thing, as most AIs today do not "think" so-much-as follow some type of "counter-move" program based on what the player does.

    I really do think there is still great and amazing things that have never been done before. But I also think a software patent should be based on a real working model and not just a "theoretical" model. (for instance, if I patent "any program that thinks for itself", that would be wrong. BUT if I create a true AI and patent the actual program, not just a vague concept, that would be protecting my creation and interests.)

    I think the world is full of possibilities, I just want some protection for the ligitimate creators to be able to profit from their work.

  2. 0
    Thaylin says:

    That is debatable. Based on the laws for patents software patents should never be allowed, because software alone NEVER make a new "thing", and is based solely on math. 

  3. 0
    Scott1701c says:

    Better that then a ruling so broad that it would invalidate perfectly reasonable patents.

    The reason Bounty Hunters can ignore the constitution (if you go to a bails bondsman) is because of a 19th century ruling. It should have remained that the bondsman could have the police go after someone when they crossed state lines. But the Judge added extra opinions about the bondsman being able to forcibly detain and essentially giving then "limited" police powers. (It has been a while since I read it, so details might be off. But it is generally agreed that the judge went farther then the case in question. There is debate if he went "too" far, but it has not been reversed after 100+ years.)

    I know it is painfully slow, but slow is better then too fast and making things worse.

  4. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    It is a shame that the Supreme Court once again punted on the issue. They could have invalidated all software patents but instead narrowly tailored this ruling to only apply to this specific patent and patents generally like it. So we will still see lots of lawsuits that argue based on this case that said patents are not covered by this ruling.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  5. 0
    Scott1701c says:

    Wait. They stopped the use of Patents on the Human Genome. How did I miss that news? That is huge in the world of "Curing Everything" (I exaggerate only a little).

    And another blow to the Patent Trolls. They look like they are nearing the end. A few more good blows and they will be down for the count.

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