The Eye of the Storm: Software Patents and the Abstract Idea Doctrine in CLS Bank v. Alice
42 Pages Posted: 11 Mar 2013 Last revised: 11 Nov 2015
Date Written: March 10, 2013
The Federal Circuit is sharply split on the criteria for determining whether a computer-implemented invention is patent-eligible or is an ineligible abstract idea. The reversals of Federal Circuit’s prior attempts to articulate a bright-line test for patentability and the tension between the Supreme Court's doctrine and the realities of the examination process have led to a storm over the validity of the vast number of software patents issued to date. This Note reviews the current controversy posed by CLS Bank v. Alice and describes the judicial philosophies behind the split. The Note further provides an overview of the abstract idea doctrine and questions raised by the Supreme Court's Prometheus ruling. The Note concludes with a review of the steps implemented by the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act of 2011 that will address the problem of overly broad computer method patents.
Keywords: patents, Section 101, software, computer, invention, patentability, patent-eligibility, patentable subject matter, algorithm, mental step, mental process, abstract idea
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