Supreme Court Renders Narrow Decision in Bilski Patent Case
News Analysis: The U.S. Supreme Court renders a narrow decision in the Bilski vs. Kappos case in which it upheld a lower court's rejection of a patent on a computerized business process for managing energy hedge funds. But the decision doesn't bar business process or software patents in general. The decision also fails to define a general test for granting business process patents.The U.S. Supreme Court has decided that lower courts and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office were correct in rejecting a patent for a method for handling energy hedge funds in its long-awaited decision in the case of Bilski v. Kappos. The Court ruled that the Bilski claim was based on an abstract idea, and as such was not eligible for a patent. However, the court also rejected the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that a concept called the machine-or-transformation test was the only test that could be allowed for considering whether a a patent should be granted. That test considers whether the patent involves a machine or in some way transforms some object from one state to another.
According to Robert Tosti, an intellectual property attorney and Partner at Brown Rudnick in Boston, the U.S. Court of Appeals decision had a real impact on the ability of businesses to patent innovative ideas. The June 28 decision eases the restrictions a little. Tosti said that the appeals court decision had led to interpretations that came down pretty hard on any method to patent a business process.