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Supreme Court's Latest Foray into Patentability of ''Abstract'' Ideas Unlikely to Clarify the Legal Landscape

By Ken Parker of Haynes and Boone

Ken Parker is a partner in the Orange County and Silicon Valley, California offices of Haynes and Boone and co-leader of the firm’s Patent Litigation Practice Group. Ken handles cases in federal courts throughout the country and focuses on patent, trademark, copyright and trade secrets litigation and analysis.

Patentability decisions under Section 101 of the Patent Act from the lower courts have come hot and heavy since the Supreme Court’s decisions on patentability in Bilski v. Kappos1 in 2010 and then Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc.2 in 2012. Although the Supreme Court did not intend it, Bilski and Prometheus wrought havoc in the lower courts, with district courts and different Federal Circuit three-judge panels struggling to define patentable subject matter under Section 101 of the Patent Act. The Supreme Court heard oral argument on March 31, 2014 in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, Case No.13-298 in an effort to further clarify rules surrounding patentability of abstract ideas and, specifically, whether the use of a computer in connection with a business method makes an invention eligible for patenting. The Supreme Court may also consider the degree to which a computer’s use is required...

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