The Corporate Law Group

Supremes to Examine Business Methods Patents

Recently the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to examine business methods patents. Business methods patents protect ways of doing business, typically in a string of actions that can be said to have been invented by a business. Priceline’s name-your-own-price process is one example of a business method exclusively claimed under a patent. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the principal national arbiter of patent cases narrowed business method patents in Bilski v. Doll. In 1997 plaintiff Bernard Bilski sought a patent for a method of predicting and hedging risk in commodities trading. The Federal Circuit rejected the claim because the inventor did not show that the method was tied to some mechanistic process. This was different from earlier precedents that had led to more patents for such intangible business methods. In the months since Bilski, more business methods patent have been rejected by the PTO. Retired Judge David Souter was seen to question broad patent protection while nominee Sonia Sotomayor worked protecting intellectual property while in private practice, leading some to believe that her confirmation would be a plus for business method patent applicants.
Paul Marotta

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