Robert Unikel Weighs in on How Supreme Court Case May Affect Software Patents in Inc.

As seen in Inc.’s “Have a New App? There May Not Be a Patent for That”

March 31, 2014

Inc. reports that the Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank International, a case that is likely to have a major effect on what is and is not patentable moving forward, especially where the technology sector is concerned.

According to Kaye Scholer Intellectual Property Partner Robert Unikel, "What the Supreme Court has to deal with now is the question of whether implementing an idea on computers is even eligible for consideration of a patent.” The case concerns a patent, held by Australia’s Alice Corp., for a software process that computerizes how funds in a financial transaction are guaranteed through an escrow account. Alice Corp. sued England’s CLS Bank for using a similar process of its own design in its foreign exchange transactions. According to Unikel, when the case was on appeal at the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in July 2012, “the case basically stumped the justices, who issued six different opinions.”

The case questions the patentability of business methods as well as software and is likely to give the Supreme Court some pause. As Unikel noted, "The Supreme Court will be wary of a bright line rule that says this category of things is or is not patentable.”

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