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Software Patentability is ’’Critically Important to the US Economy’’ and Must Be Preserved, BSA Argues in Amicus Brief to Supreme Court

Thursday, February 27, 2014

In an amicus curiae brief filed with the US Supreme Court in the case of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, BSA | The Software Alliance today argued that society has reaped enormous benefits from software patents and that the continued patentability of software is critical for economic growth.

“Software-driven innovations are shaping life in the 21st century just as mechanical innovations did in the industrial era, and they are every bit as deserving of patent protection,” said BSA President and CEO Victoria Espinel. “We agree with the lower court finding that the patents at issue in this case are invalid. But it is just as plain that true software innovations are eligible to be patented under US law. By affirming that point and clarifying how the legal tests of patentability should apply, the Supreme Court can help ensure the proper functioning of the US patent system in the digital age.”

In its amicus, BSA notes that “given the integral role computer software plays in all aspects of modern life, it comes as little surprise that inventors are increasingly seeking patent protection for software innovations,” but “simple economics makes clear that, if patent protection for software were curtailed, the adverse consequences would be swift and severe.” It would put at risk nearly $50 billion in “research and development for software and computer-related services — approximately 16% of total industrial R&D expenditures for the nation.”

The legal bar on the patentability of abstract ideas should not be misunderstood as disallowing software patents generally. As its amicus says, “software is — at its core — an algorithm; a prescribed set of steps leading to a particular result. But that is no more an ‘abstract idea’ than any other patent-eligible process, such as a process disclosing a specific means to manufacture a substance.”

On behalf of software developers, BSA points out that software patents “drive tens of billions of dollars’ worth of research and development spending each year and support millions of jobs, preclude a decision holding software innovations categorically unpatentable.”

Click here to download a copy of BSA’s amicus.

About BSA

BSA | The Software Alliance ( is the leading advocate for the global software industry before governments and in the international marketplace. Its members are among the world’s most innovative companies, creating software solutions that spark the economy and improve modern life. With headquarters in Washington, DC and operations in more than 60 countries around the world, BSA pioneers compliance programs that promote legal software use and advocates for public policies that foster technology innovation and drive growth in the digital economy.

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