Feeds

US Supremes UPHOLD troll-busting Alice v CLS Bank decision

Court unanimously approves abstract patent smackdown

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The US Supreme Court has once again unanimously decided against a dubious patent-infringement claim, and won the praise of patent-reform advocates.

The court on Thursday upheld a Federal Circuit Court decision to strike down infringement claims by Alice Corp. in its case against CLS Bank. The ruling denies claims on patents related to financial transactions and escrow.

In the decision (PDF), the nine Supreme Court Justices all agreed that the claims made by Alice in its patents were too ambiguous to enforce and therefore invalid. The court noted earlier decisions which held that "abstract ideas" were not patentable, and that simply using a computer to perform a known algorithm does not make the abstract idea patentable.

"Simply appending conventional steps, specified at a high level of generality, to a method already 'well known in the art' is not 'enough' to supply the 'inventive concept' needed to make this transformation," the court said in its opinion.

"The introduction of a computer into the claims does not alter the analysis."

The case has been seen as an important precedent, as it could reduce the reach of "patent troll" companies to make broad claims of infringement against software vendors. By clarifying that abstract ideas used in software are not eligible for patent protections, industry groups believe that the decision could make claiming infringement on common practices and methods more difficult.

"Today's Supreme Court decision is good news for software patents," said Morgan Reed, director of software lobbying group ACT.

"It clarifies what is patentable, removes some of the uncertainty, and confirmed what we all know to be true: abstract business methods don't deserve patent protection."

The decision is the second unanimous ruling made this month by the Supreme Court to limit the scope of patent-infringement claims.

In the Akamai vs Limelight verdict, decided earlier this month, the court found that end-users and third parties could not be held liable for "indirect" infringement when they perform a portion of a larger process. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.