writes: The Supreme Court just decided the long-awaited case against Bernard Bilski: Federal Circuit Affirmed
Unsurprisingly, the Court found Bilski's claims invalid because they were ineligible subject matter under Section 101 of the patent law. In a decision (with a concurrences by Breyer and Stevens), Justice Kennedy wrote of Bilski's claims: "petitioners' claims are not patentable processes because they are attempts to patent abstract ideas. Indeed, all members of the Court agree that the patent application at issue here falls out-side of 101 because it claims an abstract idea."
The Court rejected the Federal Circuit's "machine or transformation test" as the sole test for patent eligibility. The Court made clear the while the machine or transformation test may be a useful tool, it is not the only test. The Court noted that the patent law does not exclude business methods.
The Court declined to render all software patents invalid.
It is important to emphasize that the Court today is not commenting on the patentability of any particular invention, let alone holding that any of the above-mentioned technologies from the Information Age should or should not receive patent protection. This Age puts the possibility of innovation in the hands of more people and raises new difficulties for the patent law. With ever more people trying to innovate and thus seeking patent protections for their inventions, the patent law faces a great challenge in striking the balance between protecting inventors and not granting monopolies over procedures that others would discover by independent, creative application of general principles. Nothing in this opinion should be read to take a position on where that balance ought to be struck.
Slashdot take home: software patents may still be valid.