Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Joe Mullin - These three 2016 cases gave new life to software patents

In the recent article, These three 2016 cases gave new life to software patents, Joe Mullin observes the Federal Circuit has issued a set of favorable decisions upholding software patents in 2016.

It's nice to hear a "true believer" in the patent troll narrative and the idea software patents harm the economy acknowledge this trend. Even though the article notes the favorable decision, it attempts to spin the yarn that Blue Planet was software patents "last hope." I disagree, and expect more favorable decisions in 2017. Such decisions should not be surprising either, however, as the Federal Circuit is merely doing its job to define the "abstract idea" exception that the US Supreme Court declined to fully define in Alice v. CLS Bank. Like many recent decisions the Supreme Court narrowly decides the case at hand and leave the Federal Circuit latitude to tailor that basic test to the facts at hand. Unfortunately, some articles seem to not recognize a court decides a case with specific facts, and Congress passes laws.

The Alice decision has rendered non-inventive abstract ideas performed on a general purpose computer patent ineligible. I have no problem with this "major blow to software patents." My problem is the Alice decision subjects stakeholders to a decision-maker's personal opinion on (1) what claim limitations constitute the abstract idea; and (2) whether the claim recites "an inventive concept" without the safeguard of comparing the entire claim to the prior art.

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