June 6, 2008
Litigation Could Redefine "Business Methods" Software Patents
"About a decade ago, a federal appeals court issued a ruling that prompted thousands of new applications for patents on so-called "business methods," ranging from Amazon.com's "1-click" ordering system to Priceline's auction technique for selling tickets.
But at what point are such processes too "abstract" to be worthy of patent protection? That's one of the key questions that was set to be argued before an atypical 12-judge "en banc" panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington.
Called In re Bilski, the case involves an application for a patent on a process for managing the risks of bad weather in commodities trades. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the petition from applicants Bernard Bilski and Rand Warsaw because it decided the process described was not confined to a particular machine and amounted to patenting a "mental step" or an "abstract idea"--something the Supreme Court has ruled is not worthy of a patent, the Patent Office held. The Federal Circuit agreed to have a special panel hear what's widely viewed as a momentous appeal."
See also, Ex Parte Bilski: On the Briefs, Patent Law Blog [RJ]
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