Claim Against Business Model Patents – Supreme Court Skeptical

DFN: See my previous blog that tees up the patent case:
Essentially the issue is whether business processes / software should or should not be eligible for patents; right now they are, but, should the Court rule otherwise, that could lead to repeal of past patents, which as I said before could be catastrophic.

Justices Show Supreme Skepticism About Broad Business Model Patents
By Mike Masnick, 11/10/2009 @ 9:09AM

You never know how they’ll actually rule, but in hearing the oral arguments in the Bilski case over the patentability of business models (and, most likely, software), one thing became quite clear: nearly every Supreme Court Justice was seriously skeptical of outlandish patent claims. We’ve noted, of course, that the Supreme Court over the past few years has taken a renewed interest in patent law, pushing back time and time again against the Federal Circuit (CAFC), who in the 80s and 90s seemed to take the position that more patents was always a good thing. Sensing that, with Bilski, CAFC even pushed back on its own earlier rules, and it appears that the Supreme Court at least agrees that the era of crazy business model patents should end now. The full transcript is worth reading, but Justin Levine did a nice job summarizing some of the highlights in the questioning by the Justices:

JUSTICE GINSBURG: But you say you would say tax avoidance methods are covered, just as the process here is covered. So an estate plan, tax avoidance, how to resist a corporate takeover, how to choose a jury, all of those are patentable?

MR. JAKES: They are eligible for patenting as processes, assuming they meet the other statutory requirements.

JUSTICE BREYER: So that would mean that every — every businessman — perhaps not every, but every successful businessman typically has something. His firm wouldn’t be successful if he didn’t have anything that others didn’t have. He thinks of a new way to organize. He thinks of a new thing to say on the telephone. He thinks of something. That’s how he made his money. And your view would be — and it’s new, too, and it’s useful, made him a fortune — anything that helps any businessman succeed is patentable because we reduce it to a number of steps, explain it in general terms, file our application, granted?

MR. JAKES: It is potentially patentable, yes.


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