Public Knowledge Files Supreme Court Amicus Brief in Patent Case Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank


Today, Public Knowledge filed an amicus brief in the patent case Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, urging the Supreme Court to reject a patent on basic computer software technology. The patent generally covers a process of financial escrow performed on a computer. The brief was jointly filed with the Application Developers Alliance.

The following may be attributed to Charles Duan, Director of Public Knowledge's Patent Reform Project:

"Overly broad patents, in the software field and other areas, are a significant threat to innovation. Unfortunately, many of these patents are cleverly drafted, to make simple, abstract ideas appear complex and technical, in an effort to obtain broad patents on those basic ideas.

"The Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank case presents exactly this scenario. A fractured Federal Circuit could not determine how complex the patented technology was. Our amicus brief settles this question by showing that the technology can actually be performed with 7 lines of simple computer code.
“Furthermore, this case will decide whether any idea, however simple or abstract it may be, can be patented if it is simply run on a computer. As we explained in our brief, allowing such patents would have disastrous effects on innovation and competitive growth in technology. Thus, we urged the Court to reject the notion, embraced by Alice Corp. and some judges of the Federal Circuit, that anything run on a computer is patentable.

“We hope that our brief encourages the Court to look beyond the veneer of technical language and recognize this patent for what it is: a simple, abstract idea, claimed in broad terms."

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