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Supreme Court Weighs Software Patents

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The scales of justice.

The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing the pros and cons of the rules governing software patents.

Credit: University of Vermont Career Center

It is not yet clear whether the U.S. Supreme Court will help bring greater clarity to the rules governing software patents as they deliberate over Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr., representing the Obama administration, asked the court for a broader ruling making software eligible for patents only when it provides an "improvement in computing technology or an innovation that uses computing technology to improve other technological functions."

The case has divided the technology industry, with some companies worried about the loss of their existing patents, and others wanting the court to set a much higher standard for awarding software patents.

Attorney Carter Phillips, who represents Alice Corp., warns the Supreme Court's ruling could have a major impact on the software industry. He says the court could "inherently declare, and in one fell swoop, hundreds of thousands of patents invalid, and the consequences of that it seems to me are utterly unknowable."

Justice Stephen G. Breyer seems the most interested in a broader solution, noting currently companies are not in "competition on price, service, and better production," but on "who has the best patent lawyer."

From The Washington Post
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Abstracts Copyright © 2014 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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