The US Supreme Court has once again unanimously decided against a dubious patent-infringement claim, and won the praise of patent-reform advocates. The court on Thursday upheld a Federal Circuit Court decision to strike down infringement claims by Alice Corp. in its case against CLS Bank. The ruling denies claims on patents …
On the contrary, there's nothing vague about the demolition job in paragraph (3).
<<Because petitioner’s system and media claims add nothing of substance to the underlying abstract idea, they too are patent ineligible... This Court has long “warn[ed] . . . against” interpreting §101 “in ways that make patent eligibility ‘depend simply on the draftsman’s art.’ ” >>
IANAL, but that could be used against any number of junk patents.
I think you misunderstand how precedent works. There has to be clear language that can be used in very different cases. What does "adds nothing of substance" mean? When precedent is set, there are clear tests set forth in the Supreme Court ruling.
That's why the Roe v. Wade ruling, for instance, was such a landmark, because it specified specific times after pregnancy, rather than something arbitrary and open to interpretation such as discussing the viability of the fetus. Had they done that, it would be a moving target as different doctors might argue over when a fetus is viable outside the womb and as medical science advanced that might change.
The problem is that it is very hard to set specific standards for what should be patentable for software or business processes (other than "nothing") Can I patent swiping a credit card, as opposed to running it under one of those old school "back and forth" credit card things that make a copy of the card? Does that add something "of substance"?
What if I use RFID? What if a computer program replaces an ultra complex process that takes 100 people three months to accomplish and does it with 50x more accuracy? Where is the line? Unless you say "all" or "nothing", it is very hard to define, so I'm not surprised the ruling didn't draw a line, but the fact they didn't mean there's little for the lower courts to hang their hat on for future rulings.
"What if I use RFID? What if a computer program replaces an ultra complex process that takes 100 people three months to accomplish and does it with 50x more accuracy?"
What if you do.
A slightly different way of achieveing a standard business process isn't patentable.
Developing a NEW business process _might_ be patentable, but appending the obfuscated equivalent of "using a computer" to a general process shouldn't be allowed. (Specific steps within the process might be innovative and qualify for protection, but it's highly likely that prior art does exist in another field these days.)
" But what sanctions did they impose against the patent office for granting the patent in the first place?"
None. And that's the rub.
It did strike me a while back that going after individual patent examiners shown to be rubberstamping everything crossing their desks might have the desired effect but then I realised that the USPTO presumably unconditionally indemnifies them against litigation.
"Simply appending conventional steps, specified at a high level of generality, to a method already 'well known in the art' is not 'enough' to supply the 'inventive concept' needed to make this transformation," the court said in its opinion.
"The introduction of a computer into the claims does not alter the analysis."
Exchange "computer" with "mobile device"..... When is someone going to have Fun with Apple's sheaf of patents?
Back in December I gave a precis of Pamela Samuelson's analysis of the case (obviously, that was before this ruling).
Based on her discussion, I agree with DougS that the lack of a specific test in the decision significantly weakens it. It looks like SCOTUS is upholding their status quo, established by the 2010 Bilski decision: striking down patents in particular cases as "too abstract", but not providing sufficient guidance to lower courts as to what constitutes excessive abstraction.
So this is good news, insofar as it isn't regressive, but not great. It emphasizes but doesn't clarify Bilski.
IANAL, so that may all be wrong.
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