Wellington: The US Supreme Court is set to decide on an appeal of a lower court decision that could potentially lead to what is touted as the `death` of software patents.
The appeal had been filed by electronic marketplace Alice Corp, in its attempt to patent its computer-implemented escrow systems, software and methods, which has been challenged by CLS Bank International .
According to Fox News, the Supreme Court has already ruled that abstract ideas, natural phenomenon and laws of nature cannot be patented but hasn`t yet decided whether software, online-shopping techniques and medical diagnostic tests fit into that realm.
However, if the Supreme Court upholds the ruling it could potentially make existing software patents null and void or make them more difficult to defend in lawsuits.
The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that Alice Corp`s patents couldn`t be granted and half of the 10-member panel agreed that Alice`s attempt to patent its way of using third party escrow accounts to overcome the risks of fraud and non-payment were not eligible to be patented.
Dissenting judge, Kimberly Moore said that if all these claims, including the system claims, are not patent-eligible, this case is the death of hundreds of thousands of patents, including all business method, financial system, and software patents as well as many computer implemented and telecommunications patents.
The report said that tech companies consider software patents as critical in keeping the US at the cutting edge by giving people control over their inventions for nearly 20 years.