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The Supreme Court, as expected, dealt the final blow to Pittsburgh inventor Rand Warsaw's dream of patenting a method for hedging energy costs against changes in the weather. In doing so, however, the court didn't upset the foundations of the multibillion-dollar world of "business method patents," which are based less on a particular machine than a process for achieving some practical end.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
03 Jul 2010 12:22
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Anyone hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court would limit the ability to patent software will be disappointed by Monday's ruling. The court ruled against patent applicants Bernard Bilski and Rand Warsaw (PDF), who in 1997 had tried to patent a process for hedging investments, a process of countering one investment risk with another. But the majority of justices stopped far short of a broader ruling that would have curbed so-called business method patents -- and perhaps software patents as well.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
03 Jul 2010 11:52
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The bottom line: contrary to some reports, experts say that the 5-4 ruling offers little to no change in business method and software patents.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
03 Jul 2010 11:50
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My guess is that Bilski ends the debate about the limits of patentability through the US courts for now; while in Europe it is difficult to see there being much court-led change either [...]. If this is right, it probably means that if there is to be a challenge to existing regimes it will have to come through legislation. And to my mind, that probably means growing calls for reform from the anti-software patent side. As a result, I would expect to see an increase in activity on both sides of the Atlantic from anti-groups as they seek to create momentum behind calls for legislation to limit patentability. They are very good at this and in the past the pro-patent side has been very bad at responding. I wonder if it will be different this time.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
03 Jul 2010 11:48
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So, that makes (a) nine justices who ruled against vague business-method patent applications and challenged a strain of judicial certainty about the proper way of handling these patents and (b) five justices who challenged the operational notion that new ways of doing stuff are themselves deserving of patents from the United States government. Seems reasonable to read those two together as an encouraging result for people who’d like to see the end of software patents.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
03 Jul 2010 11:46
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Recent decision doesn't change much, except that the Court’s decision was at odds with 150 years of patent law, says a legal expert.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
03 Jul 2010 11:44
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Innovative companies could see a dramatic reduction in the cost of patenting new inventions, if a controversial European Commission plan is adopted by EU governments. The new rules could pave the way for a single European patent to be issued in one of just three languages – English, French or German.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
03 Jul 2010 11:40
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[...] Thus Bilski v. Kappos, the most anticipated patent law case in recent history went out not with a bang, but with a whimper. No sweeping pronouncements and few definitive declarations were in evidence. In fact, the majority opinion may raise more questions than it answers. This, of course, can only work to the benefit of most patent attorneys, who make a living from the continued raising of such questions.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
02 Jul 2010 20:27
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The quintessence of the Supreme Court's opinion is that (1) the claims of Bilski's application are not eligible subject matter because they merely claim abstract ideas; (2) the machine or transformation test established by the CAFC is not the only possible test for providing guidance regarding the question whether or not a method represents eligible subject matter. [...] Since, however, the machine or transformation test may be interpreted [...] such that business methods and software-related inventions are essentially excluded from patent protection, one can conclude from the Supreme Court's ruling that both business methods and software-related inventions remain patent eligible in the US. This applicant-friendly opinion is in fact somewhat clouded by the ongoing uncertainty as to under which criteria (other than the machine or transformation test) software-implemented inventions may be considered patent eligible.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
02 Jul 2010 20:21
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The US Supreme Court has issued on Monday a ruling that many people had been waiting for in the so-called "Bilski" case1, regarding a patent on a business method. This decision, even though it does not exclude every software from patentability, invalidates a majority of them, including those patents on computer implemented intellectual methods. It is now time for European lawmakers to halt software patents' proliferation in Europe.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
02 Jul 2010 08:03
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So what can we take away from Bilski? Well, besides Justice Stevens’ 47-page tour-de-force concurrence arguing to uphold the historical exclusion of business method patents, here are my top four: (1) State Street Bank’s “useful, concrete, and tangible result” test is dead. (2) Abstract ideas likely include “basic concepts” and methods that can be reduced to a mathematical formula. (3) Parker v. Flook’s “field of use” and “postsolution activity” limitations are alive and well. (4) Expect more Section 101 challenges, especially at the early stages of patent litigation.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
01 Jul 2010 20:28
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The Supreme Court ruled yesterday in the long awaited Bilski case [...]. As such, the decision disappoints, with the justices providing a narrow ruling and rejecting Bilski's business method patent. The software patent mess that the US finds itself in today is a product of the US judicial system and not Congress. It is therefore all the more disappointing that the Supreme Court failed to use Bilski to clean house and remove software from the scope of patentability. On a positive note, yesterday's majority opinion does stress past decisions in Benson, Flook and Diehr that clearly limit the patenting of software. We can read that as a larger rejection of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit's State Street ruling that gave us the "useful, concrete and tangible result" test that led to the widespread patenting of software. Much depends on how the United States Patent and Trademark Office implements the court's ruling.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
30 Jun 2010 17:15
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In short, the ruling has done little to clean up the mess the CAFC helped created in 1998, when it decided State Street Bank & Trust Co. v. Signature Financial Group, and opened the doors to patents for novel methods of doing business. That ruling knocked patent law loose from its historical moorings and injected patents into business areas where they were neither needed nor wanted. The results had been nothing short of disastrous: a flood of patent applications for services like arbitration, tax-planning, legal counseling, charity fundraising, and even a “system for toilet reservations.” In its Bilski opinion, the CAFC tried to fix the problem by effectively overruling State Street. Yesterday’s ruling eroded the CAFC’s limits on process patents, and thus missed an opportunity to fix some of the problems with those patents.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
30 Jun 2010 00:22
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A Supreme Court ruling June 28 on idea patents disappointed those hoping for an overhaul of intellectual property claims for software, but it may inspire new patent tests aimed at the legally troublesome biotechnology field.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
29 Jun 2010 23:16
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Justice John Paul Stevens concurred in Bilski v. Kappos, but in reality he thinks the decision made some glaring mistakes in judgment. He believes no business method should ever be granted a patent, and he carefully explains why.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
29 Jun 2010 19:01
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The Supreme Court on Monday loosened the limits on the kinds of inventions that are eligible for patent protection in a case that was closely watched for its impacts on innovation.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
29 Jun 2010 01:57
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Today, after a wait of nearly 8 months the Supreme Court has seemingly got it right [...]. In doing away with the machine or transformation test as the sole test for determining whether an invention is patentable subject matter the Supreme Court has kicked open the door and will not allow it to be closed on new technologies and innovations that we cannot today imagine. Processes have always been patentable and there is no justifiable reason to require a process to be tied to a machine in order to be patentable. Similarly, there is no justifiable reason to exclude business methods from being considered patentable subject matter. So once again, it seems an expansive vision of what suffices as patentable subject matter prevails.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
28 Jun 2010 22:01
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In English, I take this to mean that while [...] Bilski has lost, the broken patent system he tried to exploit continues on. [...] the Court wrote, "It is important to emphasize that the Court today is not commenting on the patentability of any particular invention, [...] This Age puts the possibility of innovation in the hands of more people and raises new difficulties for the patent law. With ever more people trying to innovate and thus seeking patent protections for their inventions, the patent law faces a great challenge in striking the balance between protecting inventors and not granting monopolies over procedures that others would discover by independent, creative application of general principles. Nothing in this opinion should be read to take a position on where that balance ought to be struck." The more I think about it, the more I think I picked the right word; SCOTUS has indeed punted on IP patents.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
28 Jun 2010 19:08
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The door to the patent office should remain open to those who create new methods of doing business, the Supreme Court decided in a highly anticipated case released on Monday.
by: ggiedkeggiedke
28 Jun 2010 19:01
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Eben Moglen: “The confusion and uncertainty behind today’s ruling guarantees that the issues involved in Bilski v. Kappos will have to return to the Supreme Court after much money has been wasted and much innovation obstructed.”
by: ggiedkeggiedke
28 Jun 2010 18:55
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