Supreme Court Reins in Obvious Patents

Ars Technica reports on today’s Supreme Court ruling rejecting the standard for obviousness the Circuit Court has been using to determine patentability.

[T]he Federal Circuit had adopted a higher standard, ruling that those challenging a patent had to show that there was a “teaching, suggestion, or motivation” tying the earlier inventions together.

[The Supreme Court found] that the Federal Circuit had failed to apply the obviousness test. “The results of ordinary innovation are not the subject of exclusive rights under the patent laws,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the Court. “Were it otherwise, patents might stifle rather than promote the progress of useful arts.”

I’m not quite ready to forgive Kennedy, but it’s nice to see the Court upholding the obviousness test. As my previous posts illustrate, lately a lot of stupidly obvious inventions have been given patents. Especially in software, the result has been much more stifling than promotion of good ideas.

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