Microsoft general counsel applauds recent software patent law ruling

Dave W. Shanahan

Today, Microsoft highlighted a decision made by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit regarding software patent eligibility under Section 101 of the Patent Act. Recently, US federal courts are trying to come to an agreement on whether software innovations are protected under US patent laws.

In the case, McRO (d.b.a. Planet Blue) v. Bandai Namco Games, the US Court of Appeals issued a decision that offers a clearer picture on figuring out which software innovations are eligible for protection in US patent law. Microsoft’s general counsel outlined three ways that the McRO (d.b.a. Planet Blue) v. Bandai Namco Games ruling offers patent guidance for future court cases.

In short, the ruling today offered guidance in three key ways:

  1. First, the court made clear that patent claims need to be considered as a whole.
  2. Second, the court emphasized that claims may be patent eligible if they represent a technological improvement.
  3. Third, the court made clear that data processing claims may be eligible even if they produce information rather than a physical product or result.

These three guidelines should help the courts figure out how to handle future patent law cases regarding software innovations. The full text of the US Court of Appeals decision is available here.