Over the past two months, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear five cases that will have a significant impact on intellectual property law. Three of the cases involve issues of patent law, one involves copyright, and the last involves false advertising claims under the Lanham Act. Following is a brief summary of the issues presented to the Court in the cases. We previously wrote about another case before the Supreme Court this term involving standing to bring trademark/false advertising claims under the Lanham Act.
1. Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Int’l, et al., Sup. Ct. Docket No. 13-298 (patent).
Question presented: Whether claims to computer-implemented inventions – including claims to systems and machines, processes, and items of manufacture – are directed to patent-eligible subject matter within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. § 101 as interpreted by the Supreme Court. The en banc Federal Circuit decision on appeal involves the standard for determining whether a patent directed to computer-implemented inventions improperly claims an abstract idea, which is not eligible subject matter for patenting. The Federal Circuit found the patented method at issue – involving the exchange of financial instruments using a computer – to be ineligible subject matter. But the court did not agree on a clear standard for determining whether an idea is abstract and thus unpatentable. The case is set for argument on March 31, 2014.
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