Supreme Court Toughens Business Process Patent Test - InformationWeek

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Supreme Court Toughens Business Process Patent Test
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User Rank: Ninja
6/21/2014 | 2:56:18 PM
It's clear to me...
...that the Justices unanimously believe that our current patent regime is way too permissive (and I've long agreed) and intend to take the lead in forcing the standards up.  I don't see how business method patents can survive at all, and I strongly suspect that at least half of all software patents have just been rendered worthless.

Ideally, software patents would be abolished outright (they are, after all, de facto patents on mathematical algorithms) and functional claims would be entirely disallowed (how something is done is what constitutes an invention, not what is done).  I don't think the Supreme Court is going to go quite that far, but Congress should.  In any event, a return to a patent regime that makes it difficult to impossible for anyone to unintentionally infringe on a patent would be a welcome change.

User Rank: Apprentice
6/20/2014 | 11:18:52 PM
Why not define what is too abstract?
There are many problems with this case.  First, they completely sidestep precedent.  Diamond v Diehr said that you shouldn't look to the novelty of any claim element when considering whether a patent claim is statutory.  If a claim does not read on mental steps, it should be statutory.  The Supreme Court has conflated the issues of obviousness (35 USC 103) and statutory subject matter (35 USC 101).  If the claim was so conventional, they should have just said it was obvious.  Why does there need to be a special test for software anyway?  Software is based on methods (instructions follow methods) and methods are statutory subject matter.  Software is one of the few areas where the U.S. dominates.  Why not just look at the underlying steps and see if they are novel or not?

In this case, the Supreme Court used Mayo v. Prometheus as a template and seem to say that automating a manual process is not suffient to meet the requirements of 35 USC 101.  In this case, though, by using a computer, the order of things could be changed and certain parties faced less risk due to the speed of the computer.  My summary of this case is included in my summary of the history of software patents at
The used Mayo v Prometheus as a template and seem to say that automating a manual process is not sufficient to meet the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 101. Why they didn't use 103 is anyone's guess. My summary is here: - See more at:

IBM started weakening the patent system with its lobbying for patent reform.  Now even they think things are going too far.  They filed a brief against this outcome.  On the other hand, Google wants to continue to weaken the value of patents.  When you have a monopoly position, you do not need patents.  You already have your monopoly.  Patents provide a limited monopoly in exchange for disclosure.  On the other hand, patents can be used by others against Google.   
TThe U.S. Supreme Court added clarity and certainty to the question of when software patents are valid. Not. Instead, they conflated the issues of obviousness and statutory subject matter. The used Mayo v Prometheus as a template and seem to say that automating a manual process is not sufficient to meet the requirements of 35 U.S.C. 101. Why they didn't use 103 is anyone's guess. My summary is here: - See more at:
User Rank: Author
6/20/2014 | 4:27:54 PM
Re: Common sense
I certainly hope so. When you think about how much these patent lawsuits and trolls have cost entrepreneurs, innovation, and jobs, it's almost criminal. I like the idea of fining some of these 'companies,' -- those firms that exist solely to troll for so-called patent infringements -- when they lose a case. I realize it won't happen, but it's something that strikes my sense of justice. Let's hope this unanimous ruling provides some clarity in these very murky waters.
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
6/20/2014 | 3:34:34 PM
Re: Common sense
Agreed, and it's striking that it's a unanimous decision. We don't see many of those, so "we meant what we said" is likely spot on. 
User Rank: Author
6/20/2014 | 2:56:38 PM
Common sense
The Free Software Foundation (which opposes all software patent on general purpose computers) mocked these kind of business method patents for doing nothing more than adding "... on a computer" to a commmon business practice; they compared it to making a fortune cookie into a joke by tacking "in bed" onto it. While it's easy to mock patents this way ("I could've thought of that"), I do think this decision will strike most people as a common sense pull back.  

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