June 28, 2014

Special Breaking News Alert for Clients

The United States Supreme Court today upheld a lower court ruling that an abstract idea does not become patent-eligible merely by describing how a computer might be used to implement it.

Important Ruling in Alice Case Announced

The ruling came in the case of Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International et al., case number 13-298, in which Alice obtained a patent on the abstract concept of managing risk in financial trading using a computer. The majority opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, found that, “The claims at issue amount to ‘nothing significantly more’ than an instruction to apply the abstract idea of intermediated settlement using some unspecified, generic computer. Under our precedents, that is not ‘enough’ to transform an abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.”

While some may see this, as Alice’s counsel did, as a blow to the legitimacy of process patents, the issues are quite dissimilar. So long as the underlying process is patentable, implementation is a non-issue. In this case, the Court found the process itself to be unprotectable under U.S. Patent law.

The patents involved were U.S. Patent Numbers 5,970,479; 6,912,510; 7,149,720; and 7,725,375.