The meaning of Bilski

Comments and analysis are coming in on the Supreme Court ruling in Bilski. Generally folks agree that the ruling was less expansive than many expected. The Court did not rule that business processes could not be patented, even though it threw out the specific Bilski business process patent. The majority opinion seemed punt the issue back to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit — saying that the “machine or transformation” test was not the only criteria but also saying that the law does not necessarily support broad patentability and that the Appeals judges are free to come up with “other limiting criteria.”
The ruling was an outcome of a strong internal debate. Four Justices signed on to a concurring opinion that argued for a broader ruling against business process patents. As the New York Times notes “Court analysts suggested that Justice Stevens wrote his 47-page opinion in anticipation of its serving as the majority view, but lost to those who favored a narrower result.”
Since the result was not the bright line guidance hoped for, it is likely that the issue of business process patents will continue to be fought on a case by case basis.
For more comments, see the IAM Blog posting — – Mixed reactions to the Supreme Court’s Bilski decision and Steve Lohr’s NTY column Bilski Ruling: The Patent Wars Untouched

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