By Dennis Crouch
CLS Bank Int'l v. Alice Corp, App. No. 2011-1301 (Fed. Cir. 2012) (en banc order)
The Federal Circuit has refocused its attention on the question of patentable subject matter and has ordered an en banc rehearing of CLS Bank Int'l. v. Alice Corp. (Fed. Cir. 2012). In its initial panel opinion, the Federal Circuit held that, when considered as a whole, the claimed data processing invention was patent eligible. Judge Linn wrote the majority opinion suggesting that a court should only reach Section 101 issues when subject matter ineligibility is "manifestly evident". Judge Prost wrote in dissent and argued that the majority improperly ignored the Supreme Court's most recent statements on the topic found in Prometheus. The patentable subject matter question in CLS Bank is virtually indistinguishable from the parallel issue in Bancorp v. Sun Life. In that case, however, the Federal Circuit ruled the invention ineligible.
In its en banc order, the court reformulated the questions presented as follows:
a. What test should the court adopt to determine whether a computer-implemented invention is a patent ineligible "abstract idea"; and when, if ever, does the presence of a computer in a claim lend patent eligibility to an otherwise patent-ineligible idea?
b. In assessing patent eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 of a computer-implemented invention, should it matter whether the invention is claimed as a method, system, or storage medium; and should such claims at times be considered equivalent for § 101 purposes?
The Federal Circuit has asked for the USPTO to file a brief as amicus curiae. Further amicus briefs may be filed without consent of the parties or leave of the court but must otherwise follow Federal Circuit's Rule 29.
- CLS Bank v. Alice Corp: Patenting Software Ideas
- CLS Bank v. Alice: The "Nothing More Than" Limitation on Abstract Ideas
- Ongoing Debate: Is Software Patentable?
- Ongoing Battles over Patentable Subject Matter
- Director Kappos: Some Thoughts on Patentability
- If the software method is not patentable, then neither is the "computer readable medium"
- Ultramercial v. Hulu: Computer Programs and Patentable Subject Matter