In 2014’s Alice v. CLS Bank, the Supreme Court ruled that an abstract idea does not become eligible for a patent simply by being implemented on a generic computer. Since then, Alice has provided a lifeline for real businesses threatened or sued with bogus patents.
This week, on the third anniversary of Alice, EFF is launching a new series called Saved by Alice where we’ll collect these stories of times when Alice came to the rescue. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing stories of business owners large and small. You’ll meet an app developer who was sued over a bogus patent on computerized treasure hunts, a software company whose customers were targeted by a patent troll, and a photographer sued for practices that had been common in the field for years. These stories all have one thing in common: someone with a patent on an abstract idea sued a small business, and that business could have lost everything. But Alice came to the rescue.
Why are we telling these stories? Because Alice is under attack. A few loud voices in the patent lobby want to amend the law to bring back these stupid patents. It’s time to tell the stories of the individuals and businesses that have been sued or threatened with patents that shouldn’t have been issued in the first place.