Patent Trolls & New Technology

person using tablet

Bringing Patent Law into the Information Age

Patent law actually has a long history with evidence to suggest that there were early forms of it even in Ancient Greece. It doesn’t really manifest into our modern context, or in America, until an act is passed by U.S. Congress in 1790. This was undoubtedly a response to the industrial revolution.

The United States has thrived on innovation and industriousness, propelling us into world leaders in technology. Respective patents going to new innovations has been a large part of this process. Creators have rights to patent their contributions to the field, but where does software fit into this system?

Patents & Abstract Ideas

Patent law protects innovations pertaining to “process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter”. The key exception to this is “abstract ideas”. U.S. Patent Code deems abstract ideas ineligible for a patent and recently backed this up with a ruling that made “escrow” ineligible for a patent as a business model.

The Problem & Recent Court Decisions

Because software is widely unpatented, entities that are often called “patent trolls” have been attempting to find new innovators in the world of digital technology and then sue them for infringement. This makes it widely discouraging to make innovations and suffocates the industry.

In a 2014 Supreme Court case, Alice Corp vs. CLS Bank International, there was a patent dispute over an electronic platform that assists in financial transactions, like escrow. The court ruled that just because the process can be done now by a computer, it is not a large enough change in the abstract idea of escrow. This patent was deemed invalid, and it has interesting implications for software patent law.

How the Courts Can Help

This decision, while it seems at first derogatory in the sense that software to perform certain tasks are usually not patentable, it actually can do wonders for the tech world. With this Supreme Court ruling in the books, movers and shakers in the industry will have a perfect avenue for blocking patent trolls. The large take away: how can you sue me for patent infringement if my idea isn’t patentable?

If you’re currently in a patent dispute, employ the legal counsel of the experienced Jersey City intellectual property attorneys at Vyzas & Associates. Contact our offices today at (201) 216-0800 to protect your enterprise.