Federal appeals court rules software may not be patentable

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Friday ruled that an abstract idea is not patentable simply because it is tied to a computer system. Analysts say the ruling could have severe implications on software and business method patents. In the case, CLS Bank v. Alice Corporation, plaintiff Alice’s four software patents, US Patent Numbers 5,970,479 (the ‘479 patent), 6,912,510 (the ‘510 patent), 7,149,720 (the ‘720 patent) and 7,725,375 (the ‘375 patent), which cover a computerized trading platform for currencies, were argued by defendant CLS to be too abstract to be patentable. Judge Alan Lourie wrote for the majority, stating that adding “generic computer functions to facilitate performance” does not meet the requirement that there be “significantly more” than merely an underlying abstract idea.

Apple, Google and Samsung have been embroiled in continuous patent litigation in courts around the world. Last month the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., which deals with the issue of whether human genes are patentable. The court granted certiorari to hear the case last December. In September 2011 President Barack Obama signed the America Invents Act (AIA) into law. The AIA changed the patent system from first-to-invent to first-to-file, allowing the US Patent & Trademark Office to keep all of the fees generated from patent filing rather than having them diverted by Congress, allowing third parties to introduce relevant material to patent examiners during the patent application review process and removing the “best mode” requirement from patents.


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