The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to review a deeply divided ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on the standard for determining whether and to what extent computer software deserves patent protection.
In Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank International, judges on the en banc Federal Circuit issued five separate opinions, none commanding a majority, on how to determine whether a computer-implemented innovation should be viewed as an "abstract idea" that is ineligible for a patent.
In his petition to the high court, veteran Sidley Austin advocate Carter Phillips wrote, "The Federal Circuit has left no doubt that it is irreconcilably fractured. The uncertainty that now plagues — and will, absent this court’s intervention, continue to plague — the patent system will cause severe harm and waste for innovators and litigants, as well as lower courts and the Patent and Trademark Office."
At issue in the case is the patent eligibility for a computerized trading platform used in executing financial transactions. Mark Perry of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher represents CLS Bank International.
The patent case was the only one granted review from the court's conference this morning. The justices did not act on United States v. Wurie and Riley v. California, two closely-watched cases before them today on whether the Fourth Amendment permits police to search the content of cellphones without first obtaining a search warrant. The court on December 3 requested the lower court record in the Riley case, signaling its consideration of the petition would be delayed.
UPDATED ON DECEMBER 7