Google, Dell, Facebook, Homeaway, Intuit, Rackspace, Red Hat and Zynga have filed a "friend of the court" brief with the U.S. State Court of Appeals for the Federal circuit. The case involves an financial corporation named Alice Corp. that received a patent in July for a way to close a computerized transaction. The plaintiff, a company called CLS, says that Alice's patent, for a "data processing system to enable the exchange of an obligation between parties,
" was written too broadly
. And that is where the "friend of the court" brief comes in.
"Many computer-related patent claims just describe an abstract idea at a high level of generality and say to perform it on a computer or over the Internet. Such barebones claims grant exclusive rights over the abstract idea itself, with no limit on how the idea is implemented. Granting patent protection for such claims would impair, not promote, innovation by conferring exclusive rights on those who have not meaningfully innovated, and thereby penalizing those that do later innovate by blocking or taxing their applications of the abstract idea."-Amicus brief filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals
Google, Dell, Zynga and the others want the courts to stop upholding and honoring patents vaguely written. A patent that asks to cover a certain technology "on a mobile device
" is not specific enough according to the brief. Merely writing a sentence or two about an idea that someone has and saying that it is performed over the internet or on a mobile device could potentially block a tech company from moving forward on a project and in the eyes of the petitioners, paying a licensing fee would probably seem like paying blackmail
Notably absent from the brief is a pair of companies that each have its legal team on the CEO's speed dial, Apple and Microsoft. For those who enjoy going through legal documents, you will find the brief below.