I have never liked so-called business methods patents (in fact, I dislike a majority of “methods” patents). Today the Supreme Court hand down its ruling on the Bilski case, upholding the USPTO’s rejection of Bilski’s patent application on “101″ grounds. That is, the PTO rejected the application because the claimed invention did not address a patentable subject. Specifically the Court ruled that Bilski’s application was an attempt to patent an abstract idea – a catagory that has long been ruled not subject to patenting.
Many people, myself included, had been hoping that the Supreme Court would address the patentablity of software and business methods at a broader level since there has been much huffing and puffing on the topic of should business methods as a class and should software as a class be patent eligible. Unfortunately we will have to wait until, perhaps, the Congress acts since the Court explicitly said it:
… declines to impose limitations on the Patent Act that are inconsistent with the Act’s text. The patent application here can be rejected underour precedents on the unpatentability of abstract ideas.The Court, therefore, need not define further what constitutes a patentable “process”…
In effect, the Court said that if Congress didn’t like the way the PTO was defining a patentable process then Congress can amend the patent statutes.