Court case could lead to the death of software patents

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A court case could threaten the number of patents, especially software patents.

The Supreme Court decided, on Friday 6th December, to hear an appeal that could jeopardise the existence of many software patents, reported USA Today.

This comes from the case of electronic marketplace Alice Corp and CLS Bank International. Alice Corp sought to patent its computer-implemented escrow systems, software, and methods, including their method of using using third-party escrow accounts to overcome the risks of fraud and non-payment. However, these practices are not patentable under the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has voted against granting the patents requested.

If the Supreme Court upholds the decision of the Court of Appeals, it would set a precedent. Following this, many patents could become invalid or in any case, it would be more difficult to defend them in legal matters. This is certainly the view of the judges of the Court of Appeal, who fear that this decision could potentially disrupt the patent system in many areas. Judge Kimberly Moore asserts that the non-patentability of such practices, including those relating to systems, will result in " the death of hundreds of thousands of patents, including all business method, financial system, and software patents as well as many computer implemented and telecommunications patents".

Justices will hear the case next year.

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