Supreme Court invalidates software patent because it's a software patent


I am less and less impressed with the rule of law in the USA as time goes on.


Just to point out that the headline can be read as meaning that the patent was thrown out because the implementation involved using software rather than merely saying that using a computer to do exactly what you did before is insufficiently novel to be patent-able. I would argue that if you do something truly novel with software, there’s nothing wrong with granting you a patent, but as the post says “with a computer,” is in itself certainly not itself particularly novel or worthy of a patent.


Ooh, unanimous and Justice Thomas gets to talk…

That has to sting.

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Is this a precedence for saying that adding “with a computer” to a description of your activity does not invalidate any and all Constitutional protections that it has?


If the Supreme Court really wants to play hardball, they are constitutionally enabled to hear/review any case they choose. That is, they don’t have to wait for somebody to appeal a ruling from a lower court.

Not sure I really grok the whole story here, but it seems like this is a kinda obvious (and necessary) ruling to encourage innovation and not simply patenting already existing practices simply because they are being done by a computer. In other words, the headline would probably be more accurate if it read “Supreme Court Invalidates Patent Because It Only Patents Software.” Also, isn’t this decision upholding the Fed. Circuit’s opinion, so where’s the “turf war”?

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there’s nothing wrong with granting you a patent, but as the post says
“with a computer,” is in itself certainly not itself particularly novel
or worthy of a patent

Bingo. Now if only we can get an explanation as to why something done “on a mobile device” is different enough from “on a computer” to grant a patent.


I read a bit of the decision, and it does not appear to abolish all software patents, just those that put together a series of obvious steps with “use a computer”.

“Supreme Court invalidates software patent because it’s a software patent”

Misleading headline. Makes it seem like SCOTUS just invalidated all software patents (I wish), but they didn’t. Instead, they only ruled against a very limited aspect of software patents, in this case taking an “abstract idea” (in this case," the use of a third party to mitigate settlement risk") and having a generic, rather than task specific device, computer do it. The ruling left open the possibility of doing it on specialized devices. SCOTUS declined to define “abstract”, which means there will be much more litigation to come.

And also, Techdirt’s take:

But, while three Justices (Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Breyer) hoped the court would go further and basically say that business methods weren’t patentable at all, the rest simply wouldn’t go along with that, saying that “many computer-implemented claims are formally addressed to patent-eligible subject matter,” but never giving any examples.

Actually, this could be a very reasonable ruling, carefully devised to not invalidate potentially valid patents, but taking out anything where you add ‘with a computer’.

Not patent-able:
Chess (with a computer)
Escrow (with a computer)

I can’t help but wonder how Social networking (with a computer) would fare

But only broadly. That is you can’t patent the idea of “chess on a “generic” computer,” not that the software itself couldn’t have patentable aspects. SCOTUS left that up in the air by not defining “abstract idea”, and that a chess (or other abstract idea) on a specialized device could be patentable.

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We eaves dropped on you with a computer.

Completely legal without a warrant!


There have been rumors about the Federal Circuit being abolished…

There’s no need when a minority in the Senate can filibuster every one of the President’s nominees. Now that the filibuster has been sort of fixed a little bit, some folks are so desperate to block the court from doing its work they are actually talking about closing certain courts (notably the DC Circuit.) However, there’s a Constitution standing in their way.

Why should a shredded little thing like the Constitution stop them now? (See NSA, Invasions of other countries, killing citizens without due process, etc, etc, etc)

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“white shoe”?

I’m thinking he’s referring to this.

Headline says “Supreme court invalidates software patent because…”
instead of “Supreme court invalidates software patents because…”

You may have misread.

I would’ve used the more accurate title, “Supreme Court Rule Non-Patent-Eligible Invention Non-Patentable.”

It’s definitely a bit more narrow than the headline implies, but its a HUGE step in the right direction. Quite a few patent trolls have stocked up on ‘xyz with a computer’ patents that will now be invalid.

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