computer patents : CAFC Alert

The Alice in Wonderland En Banc Decision by the Federal Circuit in CLS Bank v. Alice

John Kong | May 13, 2013

CLS Bank v. Alice Corporation (en banc)

May 10, 2013

After the Federal Circuit issued its en banc decision on May 10, 2013 in CLS Bank v. Alice Corp, the patent owner Alice Corp must be feeling like Alice in Alice in Wonderland, bewildered and frightened by the fantastical situation in which they find themselves:

(1) “bewildered” because an equally divided Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that Alice’s claimed system to tangible machine components including a first party device, a data storage unit, a second party device, a computer, and a communications controller, programmed with specialized functions consistent with detailed algorithms disclosed in the patent, constitutes a patent ineligible “abstract idea;”

(2) “frightened” because, as Judge Moore puts it, “this case is the death of hundreds of thousands of patents, including all business method, financial system, and software patents as well as many computer implemented and telecommunications patents” (Moore Op. at 2); and

(3) “fantastical” because, as Judge Newman puts it, the en banc court was tasked to provide objective standards for 35 USC §101 patent-eligibility, but instead has “propounded at least three incompatible standards, devoid of consensus, serving to add to the unreliability and cost of the [patent] system…[such that] the only assurance is that any successful innovation is likely to be challenged in opportunistic litigation, whose result will depend on the random selection of the panel” (Newman Op. at 1-2).


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