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'Alice Corp.' Is Already Making Its Mark On Patent Law

Publication Date: 
July 16, 2014
Tony Mauro

Profesor Mark Lemley weighs in on the emerging effects of a recent Supreme Court ruling on patent litigation for 

Less than a month after the Supreme Court issued its much-debated Alice Corp. ruling on patent eligibility for abstract ideas, the decision is already making a mark on patent litigation and claims.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit invoked the June 19 decision in a July 11 ruling that invalidated a digital-imaging patent. And the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a memorandum directing patent examiners to apply the Alice decision broadly.

“I think it will have a significant effect on pending litigation,” Stanford Law School professor Mark Lemley said. “The court said that just adding generic, functional hardware to an abstract idea doesn’t make it patentable. That describes at least half of the software patent claims being asserted in courts right now.”

Lemley represented the winning defendants in Digitech Image Technologies v. Electronics for Imaging Inc., the July 11 Federal Circuit ruling, in his role as a partner in the Durie Tangri law firm. “The Digitech case is the first example of the implications of Alice, but it won’t be the last,” said Lemley, adding that he spoke as an academic, not for his clients.