In a recent post on PatentlyO.com, patent law guru Dennis Crouch detailed two recent decisions from the CAFC, Bancorp Services, L.L.C. v. Sun Life Assur. Co. of Canada and CLS Bank Intern. v. Alice Corp. Pty. Ltd. Each case involved a patent having its validity challenged under 35 U.S.C. 101 as being directed to unpatentable subject matter, namely software. Mr. Crouch excerpted a portion of Bancorp, reposted below, which helps illuminate the trend of thinking apparently being adopted by our venerable interpreters of the Patent Law:
In CLS, we reversed the district court and held that method, system, and medium claims directed to a specific application of exchanging obligations between parties using a computer were patent eligible under § 101. In faulting the district court for “ignoring claim limitations in order to abstract a process down to a fundamental truth,” we explained that the asserted claims in CLS were patent eligible because “it [wa]s difficult to conclude that the computer limitations … d[id] not play a significant part in the performance of the invention or that the claims [we]re not limited to a very specific application of the [inventive] concept.” Here, in contrast, the district court evaluated the limitations of the claims as a whole before concluding that they were invalid under § 101. As we explained above, the computer limitations do not play a “significant part” in the performance of the claimed invention. And unlike in CLS, the claims here are not directed to a “very specific application” of the inventive concept; as noted, Bancorp seeks to broadly claim the unpatentable abstract concept of managing a stable value protected life insurance policy.