By Joseph S. Heino
On June 19, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that further clarified the patentability of computer-implemented methods. In Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, the Court addressed the validity of patent claims drawn to a method which amounted to nothing more than an “abstract idea.” It concluded that the method, which merely required generic computer implementation, failed to “transform” the abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention. In short, the claimed method did no more than require a generic computer to perform generic computer functions. To be patentable, the Court suggested that the method claims in question should (i) improve the functioning of the computer itself, or (ii) effect an improvement in any other technology or technical field. In view of this decision, patent claims will clearly require that a claimed computer method, system or software media add something of substance to the underlying abstract idea. The Court also reiterated that mere abstract ideas continue to be patent ineligible.
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