On May 10, 2013, the Federal Circuit issued a decision in its en banc rehearing of CLS Bank International v. Alice Corp. In a 5-5 split, the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court decision that Alice Corp’s. computer method patent claims, as well as similar claims directed to systems and computer-readable media, are not directed to eligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. A total of six opinions were written, showing a deep divide among the judges over the patentability of computer method claims. Certain judges called for Supreme Court guidance, and Chief Judge Randall Rader even included “additional reflections” on the Court’s struggle with this issue. The divided decision once more throws computer method patent claims into uncertainty, but the multitude of opinions from the various judges does provide insight into their thinking that may be valuable to litigants and applicants dealing with computer method patent claims. At this time, however, any consideration of computer method patent claims should occur on a case-by-case basis with the assistance of a patent attorney, as the various analyses from this decision will have to be compared with prior precedent and the particular claims at issue to determine subject matter eligibility.
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