Supreme Court strikes down abstract software patents

(Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

The US Supreme Court today set limits on software patents that the tech industry has supported as a way to clear up confusion about questions of patentability.

The decision had been called for by a coalition of tech industry giants including Google, Amazon, and Facebook.

Specifically the Supreme Court ruled that an abstract idea that is implemented using a computer is not eligible for a patent.

The case, Alice Corp. vs. CLS Bank International, involved claims that a computer system — configured to carry out a method for exchanging financial data — could be patented.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that such claims are not eligible for patent protection because “they are directed to an abstract idea.”

The tech industry coalition had previously argued that confusion about such patent claims have led to a huge volume of illegitimate legal action against tech firms (often from so-called “patent trolls”).

“Abstract software patents are not a minor annoyance; they are very real and growing plague,” the group wrote in a previous brief.

Kyle Alspach has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since 2005 and was one of the original staff writers at BetaBoston.
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