U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Bilski patent case

By Chris Rizo | Jun 1, 2009

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to consider whether patent protections for methods of doing business should be expanded.

The nation's highest court announced it would hear an appeal by inventors Bernard Bilski and Rand Warsaw, who were seeking to patent a method for hedging weather-based risk in commodities trading.

The men specifically were seeking a patent on a way to buy or sell energy at a fixed price based on a season's expected weather.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent cases, in October decided in an en banc ruling that the method could not be protected by patent because it was not tied to a machine and was too abstract.

Critics of the appeals court ruling say that the decision could fetter innovation in the fields of information technology and financial services, where methods are often complex.

Companies including International Business Machines Corp., Dell Inc. and Microsoft Corp. had urged the lower court to restrict patents. The case is Bilski v. Doll, 08-964.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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