Entire Class of Software Patent Claims Potentially Invalid

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On Tuesday, the Federal Circuit (the United States appeals court responsible for patent law) issued an opinion that could invalidate scores of software patents. The types of patents that it affects are those directed to abstract methods embodied in instructions stored on a computer readable medium (i.e., software). Until now, holding companies (often referred to as patent trolls) could assert patents that cover computer readable media with instructions against software developers and companies that distribute software via physical media such as compact discs, servers, and other storage media. Now, many of those patents may be invalid, allowing more freedom to distribute software and less threat of patent infringement lawsuits. The opinion is set forth in CyberSource Corp. v. Retail Decisions, Inc., No. 2009-1358 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 16, 2011) and available for free download at http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/images/stories/opinions-orders/09-1358.pdf

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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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