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"business as usual" on US patentability

1 July 2010

Like England fans waiting for a World Cup tournament success, technology providers have been eagerly expecting Supreme Court guidance on the patentability of business methods and software inventions in the US. Unfortunately, they may be equally disappointed. Finally the decision of the appeal of Re Bilski has been delivered.

The Supreme Court has upheld the Federal Court’s view that an invention is patentable if it is “tied to a particular machine or apparatus” or if it “transforms a particular article into a different state or thing”, but has refused to confirm that this is the exclusive test.

It has however refused to endorse the earlier, far wider test requiring the invention merely to produce a “useful, concrete and tangible result”, which was set down in the State Street case, and which caused the patent applications to come flooding in. So at least the hi-tech world knows that there are some boundaries, but I suspect that is scant consolation.

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