In March, the Supreme Court heard arguments about whether software could be patented in the case Alice Corp v. CLS Bank. When the Supreme Court first considered patenting software, it held that “one may not patent an idea” and thus cannot patent something so abstract as an algorithm. Since then, the Supreme Court has allowed patent protection for algorithms so long as the algorithm “just happens to be” one of the steps in a process.

“We had this anarchy about how these decisions would be interpreted in the office,” said Bruce Lehman, the Chairman of the International Intellectual Property Institute, and former head of the patent office. Nevertheless, the United States Patent and Trademark Office issued hundreds of thousands of software patents. If the Supreme Court holds those patents invalid, it could cost some of America’s wealthiest companies billions of dollars. To read more about the controversy, please visit: