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Bilski: business as usual

Jul 08, 2010, 20:37 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jonathan Corbet)


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"For many months now, anybody who pays attention to the US patent system has been anxiously awaiting the decision in the Bilski case. This case started as a lawsuit against the US patent office over its rejection of a business method patent. As this case worked its way toward the US Supreme Court, it came to be seen by many as a vehicle by which, just maybe, patents on business methods and software could be struck down. Much energy - and many amicus briefs - were directed toward that goal. As the last possible date for a ruling approached, the Free Software Foundation observed: "For Supreme Court watchers, following Bilski has been like following the World Cup. Productivity has fallen and ulcers have grown." Alas, it seems that the World Cup analogy extends to bad calls as well.

"The ruling is out; Groklaw has it. With the concurring dissents, it runs to 71 pages. Reading the whole thing can lead to a much better understanding of the history of patent law in the US, but, for those concerned about possible changes to the patent system, the conclusion is far more succinct:

"The patent application here can be rejected under our precedents on the unpatentability of abstract ideas. The Court, therefore, need not define further what constitutes a patentable "process"..."

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