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NEWS
Software Patent Reform Debate
November 10, 2008

In a decision likely destined for the Supreme Court for what would be a landmark decision about the scope of patents in the United States, the U.S. Court of Appeals has recently upheld a ruling issued by a patent court stating that software and business methods can be patented only if they are implemented by a machine or transform something into a new or different thing. The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals effectively reverses a decade-long trend of expanded patent protection.

In an October 30th, 2008 ruling that could potentially have huge implications for the technology sector, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said that pure software or business method patents that are neither tied to a specific machine nor change something into a different state are not patentable.

In a 9-3 vote, the court upheld a 1997 U.S. Patent Office refusal to issue a patent to Bernard Bilski for a method of managing the risk of bad weather through commodities trading. The court ruled that processes can be patented only if they are implemented by a machine or transform something into a new or different thing.

The Federal Circuit opined that software and business methods are still patentable but rejected standards set in a 1998 decision that allowed patents on “methods” of doing business so long as the methods involved use of a computer and produced a “useful, concrete and tangible result.” That decision ultimately facilitated the filing of patents that had no connection to technological innovation.

Read more on eWEEK.com.


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