By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to rule on the divisive issue of what kinds of software are eligible for patent protection in a case being closely watched by the technology industry. The court's decision may prove key to deciding under what circumstances companies can be sued for using certain software in their products. The court said in a one-line order that it would hear a case brought by Alice Corporation Pty Ltd, which holds a patent for a computer system that facilitates financial transactions. The patent is challenged by CLS Bank International. The court took no action on another case raising the same issue involving a patent dispute between WildTangent Inc and Ultramercial Inc. The deep interest that the software industry and patent experts have in what is a threshold issue in patent litigation was underscored by the number of companies and industry groups that asked the court to decide the issue. Companies including Google Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co, Facebook Inc and Netflix Inc had already signaled their interest in the issue by asking the court to hear the WildTangent case. Many also filed briefs in lower courts. With the rise of computer-based products in recent years, courts have struggled to apply patent law. Some legal experts, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties group, say that courts are too keen to uphold patents on ideas that are too vague to deserve protection. Such vague patents can be used against big tech companies, which say they are forced to spend money defending lawsuits instead of investing in research and development. Technology companies are particularly concerned about litigation brought by so-called "patent trolls," defined as companies that hold patents only for the purpose of suing other companies seeking to develop new products. PATENT PROTECTIONS Companies differ over what type of patent protections software products should receive. While some, like Google, favor looser protections, others, like International Business Machines Corp would prefer that most software be patent eligible. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has primary responsibility for interpreting patent law, has struggled to adopt a test that judges can use to review software patent claims, with various judges reaching different conclusions. "Hopefully, the case will accomplish at the Supreme Court what it could not at the Federal Circuit: greater clarity in the law," said Alice's attorney, Carter Phillips. CLS's attorney, Mark Perry, declined to comment. The legal question boils down to how innovative an invention should have to be to receive legal protection. The law in question is the U.S. Patent Act, which states that anyone who "invents or discovers a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter," or an improvement of an existing one, can get a patent. An invention related to an abstract idea can be patented, but it must include a way of applying the idea. Mark Lemley, a patent law expert at Stanford Law School, wrote in a brief filed on behalf of Facebook and others that the appeals court had left the law "hopelessly confused." Lemley wrote in an email on Friday that he expects the high court to agree with the appeals court that the patents in question were not patent eligible. "But the devil will be in the detail of the court's opinion," he added. Dennis Crouch, a professor at the University of Missouri School of Law who blogs about patent law, said he is amazed that courts have yet to determine once and for all that software can be patented. The confusion has led patent lawyers to play down the software elements of inventions when applying for patents at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, he added. "My hope is that this case will be a vehicle for the Supreme Court to clarify the law so that we can get back to business rather than playing language games at the patent office," Crouch said. The case is Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-298. (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by Howard Goller and Richard Chang)
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting
- Associated Press
Anti-racism activists were beaten up Sunday as far-right former French TV pundit Eric Zemmour held his first presidential campaign rally near Paris, a few days after he formally declared his candidacy in a video that highlighted his anti-migrant and anti-Islam views. As his supporters cheered and waved French flags in a northern suburb of the capital, thousands of others took to the streets of Paris to denounce his xenophobic platform. France is holding its presidential election on April 10, with a runoff if needed on April 24.
The Kremlin on Monday described the state of U.S.-Russia relations as " quite lamentable" on the eve of a video call between President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden when the two will discuss tensions around Ukraine. U.S. officials have in the last month pointed to unusual Russian troop movements near Ukraine and raised concerns over what they say is a possible Russian invasion, something Moscow has dismissed as fear-mongering. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that what Russia regards as NATO's creeping expansion towards its borders and long-term security guarantees, which Putin has said Moscow needs from the West, would be in focus on Tuesday's call.
There is always that one colleague who swans into the office with impossibly silky hair—and somehow, it stays that way no matter how much she runs around or what the weather is doing. And while it’s entirely...
- Associated Press
The four-year prison sentence given to ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Monday on charges of incitement and failing to observe pandemic restrictions is one small shot in a legal offensive intended to deal her and her National League for Democracy party a crippling political blow. Suu Kyi’s supporters and legal experts generally believe the cases against her have been contrived to discredit her and justify the military’s seizure of power in February. Suu Kyi and her co-defendants have been charged under a wide range of laws and have pleaded not guilty to every charge.
- Associated Press
Thousands of Sudanese took to the streets Monday in the capital of Khartoum and other cities in the latest protests against the October military coup and subsequent deal that reinstated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Security forces fired tear gas to disperse protesters marching in a street near the presidential palace in Khartoum, activist Nazim Sirag said. Around a dozen protesters suffered light injuries from tear gas canisters, he said.
- Associated Press
U.S. dignitaries and military veterans are mourning former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, a World War II veteran and former Republican presidential candidate who served in Congress for 36 years. Dole, who had stage 4 lung cancer, died Sunday at age 98, according to his wife, Elizabeth.
World Cup winner Lucas Hernandez revealed on Monday how his record-breaking move to Bayern Munich turned into a nightmare with recurring injuries and the threat of a prison sentence in Spain.
- The Independent
Germany’s pro-business Free Democrats have approved a deal to form a new government with two center-left parties
- Hoops Hype
Michelle Beadle has further elaborated on the idea that LeBron James wanted her fired from ESPN. In November, on her own podcast, Beadle said that she found out that James tried to get her axed. This week, Beadle went on the "House of Strauss" ...
While the British media have played up the rivalry between Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle for years now, a new book is shedding some light on the fact that they really do have kind things to say about each other behind closed doors. Christopher Andersen’s Brothers and Wives: Inside the Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry, […]
- Charlotte Observer
One case, in Mooresville, led to the arrest of an Xfinity car chief.
Verstappen says that Formula 1 becoming more about rules than racing.
- Men's Health
As more people are embracing ethical non-monogamy, learn whether polyamory, open relationships, and/or swinging are right for you.
- Business Insider
A Trump Christmas card is making its rounds on the internet, but fact-checkers say it's fake and likely an altered photo of his visit to the UK
The fake card features a doctored, black-and-white image of Trump with a stern expression, clad in a tuxedo with a phallic outline.
- Patriots Wire
Jake Bailey, one of the league's best punters, sent this ball a whopping 15 yards.
President Joe Biden presided over the annual gala that was repeatedly snubbed by the former president.
- Detroit Free Press
Michigan football will play Georgia with a shot to get to the national championship game on the line.
- Road & Track
Verstappen's additional time penalty of ten seconds does not change the final result of the race.
- Longhorns Wire
One of the most intriguing positions in the portal right now.
- Good Housekeeping
'The Voice' coaches Ariana Grande and Kelly Clarkson were featured on the new NBC show 'That's My Jam.' After competing, Ariana walked off the stage when Kelly sang Whitney Houston's 'I'll Always Love You.'