Supreme Court Taking New Look at Patentability
June 17, 2009 by Editor
The members of NARMS International, who provide at-retail merchandising and marketing services to manufacturers and retailers worldwide, take great pride in the development of effective and unique business practices in managing a decentralized workforce. The development of software in support of those processes, either proprietary or by an outsourced service, has become equally important to the fulfillment of the modern at-retail mission. Recent action by the Supreme Court that will allow the Court to hear an argument on the patentability of business methods may have important implications on patented software and business systems.
In a recent alert our legal counsel, Barnes & Thornburg, lays out the issue in great detail and provides the history surrounding the potential decision. A decision will not be released until late 2009 or early 2010.
Prior to last fall, courts used a, “useful, concrete and tangible result,” test for patent eligibility. However, a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in a case since that time has renounced the prior test in favor of a, “machine-or-transformation” test. Under that test, a patentable process must be, “tied to a particular machine or apparatus or transform a particular article or substance into a different state or thing.” The Supreme Court’s decision to review this case has created uncertainty as to the boundaries of patentable subject particularly for business methods and software-related applications.
It is unknown whether the decision will have any effect on our members, but since business processes and software applications are so vital to our service companies and to the business of many of our Associate members, it is prudent to stay on the pulse of such a ruling. We thank Barnes & Thornburg for keeping us abreast of this and other important legal developments and we will continue to pass them along to you. We encourage you to take a few minutes and read the alert for yourself by clicking here.