Alice Corporation PTY. LTD. v. CLS Bank International et al.

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Patents
  • Date Filed: June 19, 2014
  • Case #: 13-298
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Thomas, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. Sotomayor, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Ginsburg and Breyer, JJ., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

When a patent is drawn to an abstract idea, the idea is not eligible for patent protection.

Petitioner is the assignee of patents that disclose schemes to manage certain forms of financial risk. These schemes are designed to facilitate the exchange of financial obligations between two parties by using a computer system as a third-party intermediary. Respondents operate a global network that facilitates currency transactions, and filed suit against the petitioner, seeking a declaratory judgement. Respondents alleged that Petitioner's patent claims are invalid, are unenforceable, or were not infringed. Petitioner counterclaimed alleging patent infringement. The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgement on whether the asserted claims are eligible for patent protection under 35 U.S.C. §101. The District Court held that all of the claims are patent ineligible, and the Federal Circuit sitting en banc affirmed.

In holding that Petitioner’s claims are not patent eligible under §101 because they are drawn to an abstract idea, the Supreme Court explained that “[s]tating an abstract idea while adding the words ‘apply it with a computer,’" still makes it an abstract idea. Thus, it is ineligible for patent protection.

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