Reaction to the Supreme Court’s Bilski decision has come from several fronts.
Prometheus v. Mayo
As many predicted, the Supreme Court issued a GVR (grant, vacate, remand) order in this case and sent it back to the Federal Circuit to reconsider its opinion in light of the Supreme Court’s Bilski opinion. Given that the Court didn’t change the law of patentable subject matter in Bilski, it is hard to envision a different outcome.
The Federal Circuit had previously reversed a district court ruling in this case that a method of calibrating drug dosages was not patentable subject matter. The Federal Circuit ruled that the claims at issue met that court’s Bilski transformation test.
In some ways, the court dared the Supreme Court to take this case. The district court relied extensively on Justice Breyer LabCorp dismissal dissent. The Federal Circuit rightly noted that such an opinion was not controlling law on the court.
The Supreme Court today issued a decision in Bilski v. Kappos, affirming a Federal Circuit decision and holding a process for hedging on energy commodities unpatentable as an abstract idea.
“In Bilski v. Kappos, the Court unanimously affirmed the judgment of the Federal Circuit that the application for a patent on a business method should be rejected. The Court’s opinion, joined by only five of the Justices, however, needlessly left the door open for business method patents to issue in the future, and I am concerned that it will lead to more unnecessary litigation.
“Since the debate over comprehensive patent reform began many years ago, the Supreme Court has demonstrated an increased interest in patent law cases. The Court’s decisions have moved in the direction of improving patent quality. While today’s decision will take time to analyze and may not have advanced the law and created the stability and certainty that it could have, it appears to continue this trend, which is consistent with the goal of patent reform legislation pending in Congress. The courts, however, are constrained by the text of our outdated statutes, and it is time for Congress to act.”
Sen. Leahy is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a leading proponent of patent reform legislation. His characterization of the opinion shows his animus towards business method patents. Perhaps he will seek to add a prohibition to the Senate reform bill S. 515.