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Software and Business Method Inventions After Alice

As important as software and business method inventions are in the new digital economy, it is often unclear whether they can be patented. This uncertainty is largely due to a legal rule that “abstract ideas” are not eligible for patent protection, which is based on a long line of U.S. Supreme Court cases, with Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank being the most recent and influential.


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Patent attorneys are often asked the question: “Is my idea patentable?” Frequently the idea is related to software or business methods. Well-known business methods include Amazon’s “1-click shopping” and Priceline’s “reverse auction.” In the new digital economy, innovative software and business method models have given rise to new, very successful companies, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Uber, and Airbnb.

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