The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the patentability of software Thursday in a closely watched case, but raised the bar on what types of software are protected.
The court ruled that it was not enough to implement an abstract idea on a computer, but that only software that advanced or improved existing ideas could be patentable.
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Today's ruling affirmed a lower-court decision that found that CLS Bank International, an international finance company, hadn't violated the intellectual property rights of Alice Corp., an Australian-based company with patents describing what's essentially a computerized escrow system for settling payments.
Notably, the court did not throw out the idea of software patentability, which some companies had worried might happen. The justices took a more narrow path, saying that inventors or companies don't deserve patents on abstract ideas that are only new because they've been implemented on a computer.