Here’s Hoping

Justices to Weigh Patenting of Business Methods (pdf)

The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to decide what sorts of business methods might be patented, an issue with the potential to reshape significant parts of the economy.

“This is the most important patent case in 50 years, in particular because there is so much damage and so much good the court could do,” said John F. Duffy, a law professor at George Washington University who submitted a brief in the appeals court in support of neither side.

“The newest areas of technology are most threatened by the issues at stake here,” Professor Duffy said. “The court taking this is likely to make a lot of people nervous, including software manufacturers and biotechnology companies.”

In October, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington significantly narrowed the processes eligible for patent protection, ruling that only those “tied to a particular machine or apparatus” or transforming “a particular article into a different state or thing” qualified. (local copy)

Judge Mayer’s dissent is particularly worthy of a read.