The en banc Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has divided over whether method and computer-readable media claims and system claims are directed to eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101; the 10 judges who participated authored seven separate opinions. CLS Bank Int’l & CLS Servs., Ltd. v. Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd., No. 2011-1301 (Fed. Cir., decided May 10, 2013). The district court determined that none of the asserted claims was patentable.
While a Federal Circuit majority affirmed the district court’s ruling as to the asserted method and computer-readable media claims—albeit for different reasons—the court’s equal division over the lower court’s ruling on the asserted system claims affirmed its determination on that issue. As a result, the alleged patent infringer will continue to operate a computerized trading platform without making patent-related payments to the patent holder.
According to Chief Judge Randall Rader, “No portion of any opinion issued today other than our Per Curiam Judgment garners a majority. The court is evenly split on the patent eligibility of the system claims. Although a majority of the judges on the court agree that the method claims do not recite patent eligible subject matter, no majority of those judges agrees as to the legal rationale for that conclusion. Accordingly, though much is published today discussing the proper approach to the patent eligibility inquiry, nothing said today beyond our judgment has the weight of precedent.”