On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that could affect software patents for years, or decades, to come. At issue is whether a company called Alice Corp. should be able to patent the concept of using software to implement an escrow account.
Numerous firms, including Google, Amazon, Facebook and Netflix, have filed briefs advising the court to get rid of these sorts of abstract patents. “[A]bstract software patents have become a plague on computer-related industries,” says one such brief. David Selinger, CEO of RichRelevance, which also filed a brief, added, “I think there’s a strong case for abolishing all software patents…or at a minimum, software patents should reasonably advance art and describe how you’re doing it.”
The industry will be waiting to see whether the ultimate decision in the case has any impact on the current practices of “patent trolls.”