Supreme Court: New Ideas Alone Don't Deserve a Patent

Online advertising company Ultramercial is currently suing video streaming company Hulu, "alleging that Hulu violates its patent on forcing viewers to watch a commercial before playing copyrighted content."

What's the Latest?


The Supreme Court has ruled that good ideas, innovative though they may be, are not enough to warrant a patent. In the case, Alice Corporation vs. CLS Bank, the Court decided that implementing a new idea by using already-standard tools like computers and existing software programs, is not reason enough to be awarded legal protection over the idea's use. Other cases have demonstrated the lengths to which companies will go to sue each other. For example, online advertising company Ultramercial is currently suing video streaming company Hulu, "alleging that Hulu violates its patent on forcing viewers to watch a commercial before playing copyrighted content."

What's the Big Idea?

The Court's decision is expected to undercut the scourge of patent trolling suits currently clogging many dockets and costing many millions to defend against. Julie Samuels, executive director at the public policy think tank and research outfit Engine argues that most troll cases involve software patents of dubious quality. "What the Supreme Court did in the Alice vs CLS case is give parties dealing with those various patents a very important tool to fight back by invalidating those patents and, going forward, gives the patent office instruction about what it can and cannot issue patents on."

The decision offers another example of how the executive and judicial branches of government are filling Congress' shoes in our time of legislation inaction.

Read more at Wired

Photo credit: Brian A. Jackson/Shutterstock

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