Business Method Patents Live on Another Day: Bilski Decided by SCOTUS

Today’s Bilski v. Kappos decision rejected having a Federal Circuit test for determining patentable subject matter as a “knock out” test for business methods.  If affirmed, this Machine-or-Transformation Test (if applied as the sole test) would have likely rejected all business method patent applications.  As it stands, the United States is the only country that allows for business method patents.  After today’s United States Supreme Court decision, that remains the case.

In today’s decision, the Court ruled that “business methods” can be patentable if they meet the requirements set forth in longstanding precedent notwithstanding the fact they do not “recite a particular machine or apparatus, nor transform any article into a different state or thing.”  Although the Court ruled that the Machine-or-Transformation Test remains as a helpful tool when resolving patentable subject matter questions, it should not be considered a “knock-out” test.

This is a huge win for financial institutions and software companies with strong patent portfolios — as well as those law firms who help build and protect those portfolios.