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EFF Urges Appeals Court to Bring Sanity to Patent Debate

Federal Circuit Revisiting Troubling Ruling That Helps Foster Increased Patent Litigation
PRESS RELEASE
December 7, 2012
Federal Circuit Revisiting Troubling Ruling That Helps Foster Increased Patent Litigation

San Francisco - The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged the full Federal Circuit today to throw out the dangerous patents it previously held valid in CLS Bank v. Alice Corp, arguing that the court's earlier decision goes against the law and helps foster the recent dramatic increase in patent litigation. In the amicus brief filed today, EFF proposes that the court require patent owners to claim what they actually invent and nothing more.

"The Patent Act doesn't protect abstract ideas because it would lead to harmful monopolies on simple ideas, like ways of running a business or cooking a meal," said Staff Attorney Julie Samuels. "Yet we're still routinely seeing patents issued based on abstract ideas, and having those patents upheld in some courts. In an environment like this, it should be no surprise that company after company decides to buy a lottery ticket in the guise of a dubious software patent and see if it can hit the jackpot. The Federal Circuit has a chance to help curb this new rash of patent lawsuits."

The patents in CLS Bank cover a computer system that helps with closing financial transactions by avoiding settlement risk. A lower court found this invention so abstract to be unpatentable. But this spring, the Federal Circuit disagreed on appeal, finding that implementation of the invention on a computer system made it non-abstract. The Federal Circuit finding goes against a Supreme Court ruling that adding conventional steps – like implementing something on a computer – does not alone make an abstract idea patentable.

"Patent lawsuits are very common, straining businesses large and small, and acting as a tax on innovation," said EFF Fellow Michael Barclay. "These lawsuits are fueled by dangerous and contradictory rulings from the Federal Circuit on what constitutes a patentable invention. We're asking the court to implement a sensible system, limiting patent owners to what they actually invented, instead of all-too-common broad and vague claims that make no sense and give no guidance to innovators."

Public Knowledge joined EFF in this amicus brief.

For the full brief in CLS Bank v. Alice Corp:
https://www.eff.org/node/72780

Contacts:

Julie Samuels
   Staff Attorney
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   julie@eff.org

Michael Barclay
   Fellow
   Electronic Frontier Foundation
   michael@eff.org

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