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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank...thanks for nothing

A few weeks ago, I complained about the Supreme Court's continued efforts to change patent law, but without any guidance as to how it was supposed to happen.  I concluded with my hope that the Court would tell the Federal Circuit what they got wrong (7 opinions issuing from 10 judges) and what the right answer was about the patent eligibility of software and computer-implemented inventions.

Well, this morning Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank issued - and remarkably, the Court unanimously affirmed the Federal Circuit (??) and specifically declined to provide the guidance that has been lacking:  "In any event, we need not labor to delimit the precise contours of the 'abstract ideas' category in this case"  I'm sure I'll have some more thoughts on this, but my initial reaction is "Thanks for nothing."

Posted by Kristen Osenga on June 19, 2014 at 10:47 AM | Permalink


One fact about the Thomas decision: it leans heavily on the word "generic." Merely requiring "generic" computer implementation fails to create patentability ... later this is re-worded a bit referring to an "instruction to apply to abstract idea ... using some unspecified, generic computer." Still later, the "specific hardware" referenced in petitioner's brief is dismissed as "generic" because "nearly every computer" will satisfy them.

The various parts of the computer specified are just "generic computer components."

All of this gives me the impression that a patent that calls for some not-so-generic hardware will be a different kettle of sturgeon. Could you plausibly re-write a program designed to intermediate financial transactions in this way such that it would be specifically tied to a Mac but not useful on PCs or vice versa?

Posted by: Christopher Faille | Jun 20, 2014 10:48:12 AM

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