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Patent Ruling Has Broad Reach

Posted May 1, 2007 9:04 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The U.S. Supreme Court decision yesterday making it more difficult to obtain patents on new products is one of its more important patent rulings in years.

The court said an invention is not entitled to a patent if it is the result of only “ordinary innovation” and “does no more than yield predictable results.”

Cynthia Kernick, an intellectual property lawyer at Reed Smith in Pittsburgh, told the New York Times that the ruling has a broad reach.

“Nearly every patent that contains a combination of prior ideas is at risk because the court has dramatically broadened the standard of obviousness,” she said.

The Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports the ruling has big implications for technology companies, which typically design software that offer small improvements from previous designs. Also affected will be patent trolls, which buy patents and bring suit for royalties against alleged infringers.

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