Tuesday, November 4, 2008

In re Bilski: The End of Business Method Patents? No

he U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit just handed-down the long-awaited In re Bilski decision dealing with patentable subject matter and so-called business method patents. The decision reverses part of the famous State Street decision that sparked so much business method patent activity in the past decade. It imposes a new test requiring that the method being claimed must either (1) be tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or (2) transform a particular article into a different state or thing. This will stop some business method and software patents, at least as currently drafted, but since most involve hardware and other tangible aspects of technology, making the claims involve tangible elements may not be an onerous burden. In fact, it's pretty much what the PTO has been requiring and what drafters have been doing for some time. But some areas may become more challenging for patent seekers.

In fact, the decision affirms the possibility of business method patents while it clarifies the standard for patentability.

I've got some pending patents in this category and am curious to see how they will be affected, if at all. Fingers crossed!

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