Thursday, June 19, 2014

Supreme Court, in Alice case, holds that a mere "abstract algorithm" is not patentable

The Supreme Court has upheld a full DC Federal Circuit  appeals court ruling, in the case of Alice Corp, v CLS Bank, that the “invention” claimed (an algorithm for estimating financial settlement risk) is not by itself eligible for patent protection.  The algorithm, while implemented in a computer system, was essentially like a mathematical theorem and proof, that is, a law of nature.   The opinion (link here) suggests that Alice did not add “anything of substance to an underlying abstract idea”.   Justice Thomas wrote the opinion for a unanimous court, and Sotomayor wrote a concurring opinion with Breyer and Ginsburg.  Their opinion seemed to be even more concerned with the underlying abstract nature of the process, as if the petitioner wanted to patent an alternate proof to the Pythagorean Theorem!   

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