U.S. Supreme Court: Abstract Ideas Aren't Eligible for Patents

Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank that abstract ideas are not patentable. The decision will result in fewer vague or overly broad software patents based on a concept rather than an invention or product.    

In the decision, the Supreme Court reiterated three simple points:  An idea is not an invention. An idea cannot be patented. The manifestation of an idea in software is not an invention and cannot be patented.

The question for Congress and for app developers is how many of these mistakes has the PTO made—particularly in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s before the Court ruled in Bilksi v. Kappos and Congress enacted the America Invents Act? And how will Congress help patent troll victims that are repeatedly abused by trolls wielding patents that never should have been issued?

Today's decision reiterates the need for patent troll legislation. Hundreds of patent trolls are using thousands of mistakenly-issued patents to threaten and sue small businesses and startups and to extort unjustified royalties. 

Patent reform legislation must include an expansion of the Covered Business Method Review program, an administrative patent review process that is quicker and less expensive than litigating every one of these patents. 

We look forward to working with Congress in the remaining months of this year and next year to pass patent reform that gives troll victims relief. 


The Application Developers Alliance is a non-profit global membership organization that supports developers as creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs. We promote the continued growth of the industry and advocate on behalf of our members on public policy and industry issues. The Apps Alliance serves a growing membership of tens of thousands of developers and hundreds of companies including: mobile app publishers, platforms, wireless carriers, hardware manufacturers, ad networks, enterprise tools and service providers.