Computer Method Patents Get Slammed

A basic rule of patents is that a known idea cannot be patented. In practice the US Patent and Trademark Office has made an exception to that rule by issuing patents for known ideas that are implemented with a computer. Yesterday, the Supreme Court, with Clarence Thomas writing the opinion, said that merely using a computer to perform a known idea is not patentable. The decision helps to bring back logic, consistency and fairness to the patent system. This ruling should take some of the wind out of the sails of those who've been arguing that the patent system should be abolished altogether.

The case was between Alice Corporation and CLS Bank International regarding patents that cover a method of settling trades between investors in financial markets by using a neutral middleman. The concept has been used by traders for centuries. Justice Thomas, wrote that “merely requiring generic computer implementation fails to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.”

Read the Supreme Court opinion here.

- Mike

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