A recent appeal of a Federal Circuit decision might lead the Supreme Court to set a standard for the patentability of software programs.  Two recent cases have centered on this question and attorneys believe that one or both will soon be heard by the Supreme Court and lead to a clear test for this contentious area of patent law.

The two cases in question are Wild Tangent v. Ultramercial and the more recently appealed CLS Bank v. Alice Corp.  And many think the recent appeals court split on the issue, where six different opinions were given, will give the court a reason to decide where the line between abstract idea and patentable invention is drawn.

The Alice Corp. case centers around a computerized platform for reducing risk in financial trading.  The Federal Circuit sided with CLS Bank and held that the patent was invalid because it was merely an abstract idea.  On camp felt that a concept “clothed in computer language” did not meet the requirements for patent eligibility, while the other camp firmly believed that an abstract idea tied to a specific manner of accomplishing it via computer was enough to deserve patent protection.

The Wild Tangent case involves allowing internet users to access copyrighted content in exchange for viewing ads.  The Federal Circuit upheld the patent because it was a “practical application of this idea.”  The two differing opinions further underscore the uncertainty of the standard.

This divide and the uncertainty in the evaluation of software patents cause many to believe, and some to hope, that the Supreme Court will soon send down a clear standard.    Patent attorneys are optimistic that this time some clarity will be cast on this issue. A clear test will help determine where an abstract concept becomes a patentable invention in the field of software patents.

How Can I Help?

If you, or someone you know, need any help with Intellectual Property issues, from filing a patent, trademark or copyright, or just need advice regarding how best to protect your inventions, ideas or your brand, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +