Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International

In 2005, the Australian company Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. filed a patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office for a method of reducing financial risk by ensuring, through “data processing systems” and third-party exchanges, that counterparties make good on their obligations. In 2010, the USPTO approved the application and issued patent 7,725,375, including four independent claims and forty-three total dependent claims. Three of the independent claims relate to “data processing system[s] to enable the exchange of an obligation between parties” and one to “a computer program product . . . for use by a party to exchange an obligation between a first party and a second party,” thus setting up a number of interesting patentability questions.

Today, the United States Supreme Court has decided to answer at least some of these questions. The Court granted [PDF] a writ of certiorari in Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International, Docket No. 13-298 (Supreme Court 2013), to examine whether and to what extent innovations in software (and in methods implemented in software) are eligible for patent protection under Section 101. This question has played a central role in the ongoing debate over the patent system and its incentivization — or disincentivization — of investment in research, development, and innovation in the information age. Overseas, New Zealand addressed the question directly earlier this year. The United States has not yet developed a clear answer to this question, but the Supreme Court may provide one in 2014.

JETLaw Symposium: Patents 101: Eligibility from Computer Code to Genetic Codes

To address this question and advance the underlying debate, JETLaw will bring together judges, academics, and patent practitioners on Friday, January 24th, 2014, at our annual symposium: Patents 101: Eligibility from Computer Code to Genetic Codes. The Hon. Randall R. Rader, Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit, will present the keynote address. Chief Judge Rader dissented in part (CLS Bank Int’l v. Alice Corp. Pty, 717 F.3d 1269, 1292 (Fed. Cir. 2013)) in in the underlying case, an en banc decision in which the Federal Circuit held the patents in question invalid but could not agree on the standard to apply.

[H/T Google News, Patently-O, SCOTUSBlog]

–Brad Edmondson

Image Source (software patents)

Symposium image original

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