Supreme Court Rules on Alice Corp. — abstract ideas implemented on computer are not patentable

“The claims at issue amount to ‘nothing significantly more’ than an instruction to apply the abstract idea of intermediated settlement using some unspecified, generic computer, [ ] Under our precedents, that is not ‘enough’ to transform an abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.”

The representative method claim in this case recites the following steps: (1) “creating” shadow records for each counterparty to a transaction; (2) “obtaining” start–of-day balances based on the parties’ real-world accounts at exchange institutions; (3) “adjusting” the shadow records as transactions are entered, allowing only those transactions for which the parties have sufficient resources; and (4) issuing irrevocable end-of-day instructions to the exchange institutions to carry out the permitted transactions. [ ] Petitioner principally contends that the claims are patent eligible because these steps “require a substantial and meaningful role for the computer.” [ ] As stipulated the claimed method requires the use of a computer to create electronic records, track multiple transactions, and issue simultaneous instructions; in other words, “[t]he computer is itself the intermediary.” [ ]

In light of the foregoing, [ ] the relevant question is whether the claims here do more than simply instruct the practitioner to implement the abstract idea of intermediated settlement on a generic computer. They do not.

Justice Thomas delivered the opinion for the unanimous court. Justice Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion in which J. Ginsburg and J. Breyer, joined. Opinion:  2014-06-19 Alice Corp. v. CLS

Emblaze v. Apple — the court is getting old.

Magistrate Judge Grewal of the Northern District of California has the kind of writing style that keeps reading opinions interesting. In Emblaze Ltd. v. Apple Inc., No. 5-11-cv-01079 (N.D. Cal.), Apple petitioned the court for a stay pending the Supreme Court’s resolution of Akamai Techs., Inc. v. Limelight Networks, Inc., 692 F.3d 1301 (Fed. Cir. 2012).
Grewal writes:

It has been observed that the U.S. Supreme Court’s relationship to patent law sometimes seems like that of a non-custodial parent who spends an occasional weekend with the kids1. . . . And so when the Supreme Court decides to consider an issue that is presently and fiercely contested before a trial court, it might seem obvious that the trial court should call a time-out by issuing a stay. . . . [T]he court concludes that a stay under the present circumstance would NOT be appropriate. . . . [O]f the 22 claims of the patent-in-suit asserted against [defendant], 10 are apparatus claims, which Akamai does not address. . . .

[I]f the Supreme Court is the non-custodial parent of patent law, the Federal Circuit must be viewed, and respected, as the custodial parent who endures the daily grind of keeping the law on the straight and narrow. While this court must of course follow any change imposed by the Supreme Court, a majority of this nation’s highest patent court have spoken on the issue of proof requirements for indirect infringement claims. It would be disrespectful of that custodial parent’s efforts to presume that a reversal is coming.

In further support of the court’s decision to deny the stay, Judge Grewal writes that, second, the case is getting old and older by the day and at some point a case must be tried, and
Emblaze at 3
Link to opinion: Emblaze Ltd. v. Apple Inc., No. 5-11-cv-01079 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 24, 2014).
 
1 Quoting Rebecca S. Eisenberg, Commentary, The Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit: Visitation and Custody of Patent Law, 106 MICH. L. REV. FIRST IMPRESSIONS 28 (2007), (last visited Mar. 2 2014).