Supreme Court To Hear Key Case On Software Patents That Appeals Court Couldn't Figure Out
from the time-to-clear-up-the-mess dept
Now the Supreme Court can fix it, and hopefully can establish clear rules -- potentially ones that wipe out software patents entirely, though I'm not convinced they'll go that far. To some extent, the Supreme Court has itself to blame. Back in 2010, in the Bilski case, the Supreme Court had the chance to set clear rules of the road concerning software patents, but instead chose to punt, ruling incredibly narrowly (basically saying "the test the courts use isn't the only test, but we won't tell you what other tests to use"). Because of that, no one knows what tests should be applied to see if software (and business methods) are patentable, and that leads to complete messes like the CAFC ruling in the Alice v. CLS case.
At the very least, one hopes that the Supreme Court will clear things up, rather than punting again by ruling very narrowly. Part of the role of the Supreme Court is to set the standards for the lower courts to follow, based on the Constitution (and the law). Instead, lately, it seems to look to rule very narrowly and to let these issues keep bouncing around without any clarity at all. Hopefully, the Supreme Court will recognize that its own earlier precedents should have effectively made software unpatentable, but even if it won't go that far, a clear rule would be a step forward.