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High Court Finds Process Claim Ineligible for Patent Protection


June 19, 2014 -- Today, the US Supreme Court in Alice Corp. Ltd. v. CLS Bank Corp. once again struck down as ineligible process patent claims which it found to be directed at abstract ideas.  According to the Court, these claims for a method of mitigating settlement risk with an intermediary is no less ineligible than the method claims in the Bilski case, which covered the abstract idea of hedging risks.
In addition, the Court said this ineligibility cannot be cured by implementing the claims on a general purpose computer or by integrating them into system claims using hardware that is "purely functional and generic."  According to the Court, none of the hardware recited by the system claims provides "a meaningful limitation" beyond using the ineligible method in "a particular technological environment," i.e., implementation via computers.
In response to the opinion, AIPLA Executive Director Q. Todd Dickinson stated, "While affirming the CAFC broadly, it is disappointing that the Supreme Court did not take the hoped-for opportunity to provide greater clarity on how to distinguish patent-eligible process claims from ineligible abstract ideas.  It also appears they are still confusing subject matter eligibility with the patent statute's separate and more definitive requirements that an invention be novel and non-obvious."  

AIPLA, the American Intellectual Property Law Association, was founded in 1897 to maintain a high standard of professional ethics, to aid in the improvement in laws relating to intellectual property and in their proper interpretation by the courts, and to provide legal education to the public and to its members on intellectual property issues. AIPLA is a national bar association constituted primarily of lawyers in private and corporate practice, in government service, and in the academic community.  
AIPLA Contact:
James Crowne
Director of Legal Affairs
(703) 412-4353