In an effort to push forward patent reform, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) posted a press release using the highly publicized Supreme Court decision in Bilski v. Kappos (.PDF) as a reason as to why reform is needed.
Bilski affirmed a Federal Circuit decision denying a patent for a process for hedging on energy commodities because it was deemed merely an abstract idea. Here is what he said:
In Bilski v. Kappos, the Court unanimously affirmed the judgment of the Federal Circuit that the application for a patent on a business method should be rejected. The Court’s opinion, joined by only five of the Justices, however, needlessly left the door open for business method patents to issue in the future, and I am concerned that it will lead to more unnecessary litigation.
Since the debate over comprehensive patent reform began many years ago, the Supreme Court has demonstrated an increased interest in patent law cases. The Court’s decisions have moved in the direction of improving patent quality. While today’s decision will take time to analyze and may not have advanced the law and created the stability and certainty that it could have, it appears to continue this trend, which is consistent with the goal of patent reform legislation pending in Congress. The courts, however, are constrained by the text of our outdated statutes, and it is time for Congress to act.
I wonder what he meant about needlessly leaving the door open for business method patents? Does he believe a business method is not a viable subject matter for a patent? Does he believe that if a patent application for a business method passes the machine-or-transformation test it shouldn’t be allowed a patent?
I wish there was more substantive information in the press release. But I guess it’s a political maneuver to use a well-publicized case to draw attention to his pet project, the Patent Reform Act of 2010. Still, with summer recess approaching, even with the publicity that Bilski has drawn is it possible that we will see anything in the way of progress on S.515 until the fall?
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