The Supreme Court may be making up for where Congress has left off. Legislation designed to curb abuse from patent assertion entities, or so-called patent trolls, has been shelved indefinitely. The legislation passed the House and was supported by President Obama. Unfortunately, the legislation was removed from the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 21, 2014 because of a lack of agreement on how to "combat the scourge of patent trolls on our economy without burdening the companies and universities who rely on the patent system." However, the Supreme Court unanimously decided five patent cases this term that appear to have a substantial impact on patent trolls: Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int'l; Biosig v. Nautilus; Akamai v. Limelight; Octane Fitness v. Icon Health;and Highmark v. Allcare. In particular, Alice limits subject matter eligibility; Nautilus limits indefiniteness; Limelight limits induced infringement; and Octane Fitness and Highmark expand a successful party's ability to collect attorney fees. As such, the Supreme Court appears to be signaling its willingness to help curtail patent troll litigation.

Eligible Subject Matter -

Patent trolls have often asserted business method patents and patents that appear to apply computers to well-known techniques, such as selling goods or services over the Internet. With the Supreme Court's decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int'l., whether such patents actually claim eligible subject matter can now more readily be questioned. In Alice, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the traditional three exceptions to subject matter eligibility in 35 U.S.C. §101, namely laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas. The Supreme Court applied a test to determine whether a patent claim falls under the abstract idea exception, as set forth in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. The test contains two parts: first, determine whether the claims are drawn to an abstract idea; and second, if so, determine whether the claims contain an inventive concept sufficient to transform the claimed abstract idea into a patent-eligible application.

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Topics:  Attorney's Fees, CLS Bank v Alice Corp, Highmark v. Allcare, Indefiniteness, Induced Infringement, Limelight v Akamai, Nautilus Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Octane Fitness v. ICON, Patent Litigation, Patent Trolls, Patent-Eligible Subject Matter, Patents, Popular, SCOTUS

Published In: Civil Procedure Updates, Civil Remedies Updates, Elections & Politics Updates, Intellectual Property Updates, Science, Computers & Technology Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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