On August 16, 2011, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in CyberSource v Retail Decisions concluded that a claim to a method for detecting Internet fraud was not patentable. The court also concluded that a claim to computer memory storing software to implement the method also was not patentable. The Federal Circuit treated the claim to computer memory as no different from the unpatentable method claim.
Under this and other decisions, if a method of doing something can be performed as a mental process entirely within a person’s head, the method is “abstract” and not patentable regardless of how valuable, useful, novel or unobvious the method may be. A computer programmed to implement the unpatentable method also is not patentable.
Does this mean that your computer-implemented invention is an abstract mental process and unpatentable? If your invention requires specific systems and hardware, such as the Internet, a GPS receiver, or a computer capable of comparing an image pixel-by-pixel to a noise mask, then your invention should pass muster. If your invention is one that could be performed entirely in a person’s head, then talk to us. We can help avoid the effects of the CyberSource decision
–Robert Yarbrough, Esq.