Saturday, May 16, 2015

Patent-Eligibility of Computer Software Inventions in a Post-Alice Era

Thomas Nguyen of Lewis Roca Rothgerber writes
Decided on June 19, 2014, the Supreme Court decision on Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International[1] has introduced a lot of uncertainty regarding patent-eligibility of certain types of technologies. In particular, Alice indicated that abstract ideas (e.g., business methods), even when carried out by a generic computer, do not automatically become patent eligible. Alice did provide, however, that if the subject matter “improves the functioning of the computer itself” or “any other technology”, such subject matter may be patent-eligible. In this way, one can see this as leaving open the possibility of finding computer software patent-eligible.

Since then, a number of cases have tackled the issue on how to apply the new Alice guidelines set by the Supreme Court with respect to computer software. In the following decision (summary judgment at a district level court), the remarks provided by Judge Pfaelzer may be helpful in evaluating the patent-eligibility of computer software under 35 U.S.C. § 101 in the post-Alice era.

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