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Legal Articles

U.S. Supreme Court Rules on Patent-Eligible Subject Matter
The full impact of the Alice decision will be apparent after lower courts further explore the contours of patent-eligible subject matter. On June 19, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in a prominent patent case regarding subject matter that is not eligible for patent protection. In Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International,1 Justice Thomas delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court that affirmed the Federal Circuit and held that Alice Corporation's patent claims directed to a computer-implemented scheme for mitigating settlement risk are drawn to a patent-ineligible abstract idea. The Supreme Court did not broadly declare that computer-implemented or software-directed patent claims as a general category are unpatentable. Rather, the Court applied the Mayo2 test to the details of the specific claims at issue and found the claims to be patent-ineligible on that basis. In that regard, the Court's decision in Alice is not significantly different than the earlier Bilski case,3 which also found claims (directed to hedging of financial risk) to be patent-ineligible. The full impact of the Alice decision will be apparent after lower courts further explore the contours of patent-eligible subject matter. Justice Thomas' opinion in Alice yields insights into the relevant analytical framework.

United States | 09/03/2014

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