23 May 2010

Further Bilski Rumors

I am currently in Boston for the INTA Annual Meeting, and there are increasing rumors about the reasons for the extraordinarily long lag between the oral arguments in the Bilski vs. Kappos case held by the Supreme Court on November 9, 2009 and the issuance of the decision and, of course, about whether this decsision will be pro or contra Bilski's business method claims.

What I heard from some people having sources within or rather close the Supreme Court is that there are (or have been until recently) two dissents that consider Bilski's claims patentable, while the Supreme Court aims at an affimative decision with one dissent only, and that the decision is expected to be issued before the end of the month.

That is, the decision will most probably uphold the claims as unpatentable as decided by the Federal Circuit, whereas, since these claims relate to a pure business method rather than a software-implemented invention, the current practise of the USPTO regarding patentability of software-driven inventions will be confirmed (either implicitly or even explicitly).
It thus appears that Supreme Courts's Bilski decision may represent an important contribution to harmonisation of international (non-) patentability practise regarding business methods, while software remains patentable under well-defined circumstances, which both would be much appreciated by European patent practicioners.