Yesterday, the USC IP & Tech Clinic filed another amicus brief with the Supreme Court in the case of Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank concerning the problems with overly broad and abstract patents. The Clinic, again representing the Application Developers Alliance, teamed up with Public Knowledge to co-author the brief to discuss the harmful consequences of the Federal Circuit’s inconsistent and sometimes formalistic approaches to patent subject matter eligibility, leading to flawed patents that cover basic concepts and ideas—the building blocks of innovation. The brief shows that the central claim in the patent at issue can be implemented in just seven lines of computer code. This demonstration shows that the claim, despite complex-looking language, covers nothing more than basic concepts dealing with third-party escrow systems. We then go on to recommend that the Court clarify the law of patent eligibility with three simple pieces of guidance.
It was a pleasure to partner with the brilliant Charles Duan and Anna Sallstrom at Public Knowledge on this brief. We hope that the Supreme Court will reaffirm that subject matter eligibility remains a substantive test, and not one that can be circumvented with clever draftsmanship.