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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Through the looking glass: will 2014 be the year of clarity for software patents?

By Anthony Selleck, Senior Associate and Patent Attorney

We reported in June about the decision of the United States Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit in CLS Bank v Alice Corporation Pty Ltd, where the court split evenly on the question of whether a computer-implemented escrow service was patentable subject matter. 

Now, in a more recent development, the United States Supreme Court has granted a writ of certiorari and will hear Alice Corporation's appeal against the decision of the Federal Circuit. The question presented to the Supreme Court for decision is whether computer-implemented inventions (including claims to systems, machines, processes and items of manufacture) are directed to patent-eligible subject matter according to US patent law.

The significance of a decision by the United States Supreme Court on this issue cannot be understated. We are also awaiting the result of two decisions (Research Affiliates and RPL Central) of the Australian Full Federal Court that are both concerned with the same question. That means 2014 could very well be the year of clarity for software patents.

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