The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments beginning Monday in a patent dispute that will determine what types of "business methods" should qualify for patent protection. Since companies have often patented software using a "business method" patent, many are keeping a close eye on what happens in the case.
Bloomberg reports there have been 68 amicus curiae or "friend of the court" briefs filed in the case, from such giants as Google and Microsoft, as well as Bank of America and Morgan Stanley, among others. Writer Greg Stohr says:
The court's ruling, likely to affect billions of dollars in patent rights, will be its first since 1981 on what types of innovations qualify for legal protection.
Those arguing that patent rights should be restricted say that "business method patents amount to a tax on Internet commerce." On the other hand, small software companies, financial services companies and others argue that their inability to protect software "cripples" the ability of smaller companies to compete.
A ruling in the case is expected by July.