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Society Reaps Enormous Benefits from Software Patents, BSA Argues in Amicus Filing

WASHINGTON, DC — December 7, 2012

Patent protection for software provides an essential incentive for innovation, and courts should be careful not to undermine it with a misapplication of the legal bar on the patentability of abstract ideas, BSA | The Software Alliance argued today in an amicus curiae brief filed with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in the case of CLS Bank Int’l v. Alice Corp.

“Software is sewn into the fabric of everyday life — from the thermostats in our homes and offices, to the medical devices that diagnose diseases, to the machines automating today’s factory floors,” said BSA President and CEO Robert Holleyman. “All of these things depend on truly inventive software. Patents are critical drivers of this kind of technology innovation, which in turn spurs economic growth and job creation.”

The case before the court is an appeal involving the validity of Alice Corp.’s software patents for credit intermediation, which it accuses CLS of infringing. BSA’s amicus concurs with the lower court’s finding that the software patents in question are invalid. But BSA argues that the legal bar on the patentability of abstract ideas should not be interpreted by courts as a bar on software patents generally.

BSA points out in its amicus that “the Supreme Court has cautioned that ‘too broad an interpretation of this exclusionary principle could eviscerate patent law. For all inventions at some level embody, use, reflect, rest upon, or apply laws of nature, natural phenomena, or abstract ideas.’” Courts should instead take account of other provisions in patent law, BSA concluded, because they provide “additional, more substantial limitations on the issuance of patents.”

“Software firms invest tens of billions annually in research and development in order to create new software innovations,” BSA points out. “This enormous investment brings countless new products to consumers, has led to vast improvements in industrial productivity, and ensures that US software companies remain global leaders. Indeed, software and related innovations constitute a growing and significant portion of both the US economy and the US export market.”

“Patent protection is essential to maintaining this vibrant and essential industry,” BSA argues. “In the words of PTO Director Kappos, ‘[d]iscrimination against a form of innovation that is increasingly critical to technological advancement, indeed that in many areas dominates technological advancement, makes no sense.’”

Click here for a copy of BSA’s amicus.

About BSA

BSA |The Software Alliance ( ) is the leading global advocate for the software industry. It is an association of world-class companies that invest billions of dollars annually to create software solutions that spark the economy and improve modern life. Through international government relations, intellectual property enforcement and educational activities, BSA expands the horizons of the digital world and builds trust and confidence in the new technologies driving it forward.

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About BSA

BSA | The Software Alliance ( is the leading advocate for the global software industry before governments and in the international marketplace. Its members are among the world’s most innovative companies, creating software solutions that spark the economy and improve modern life. With headquarters in Washington, DC, and operations in more than 60 countries, BSA pioneers compliance programs that promote legal software use and advocates for public policies that foster technology innovation and drive growth in the digital economy.
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