A federal trial-level court ruled in favor of Kickstarter yesterday. Kickstarter was requesting a declaration that its competitor’s patent (which arguably covered crowdfunding) was invalid. Judge Failla granted that relief on the grounds that ArtistShare’s patent (#7,885,887) claimed the patent-ineligible abstract concept of “patronage — a concept that is ‘beyond question of ancientlineage.'” The patent attempted to add elements that would transform that abstract concept into something patentable, but the Court noted that “these computer functions are well-understood, routine, conventional activities previously known to the industry … thus add[ing] nothing of practical significance to the underlying abstract idea.“
When I was in law school (1996-2000), the rate at which trial court decisions was reversed by appellate courts hit 51%, meaning that it was better for the lower court to flip a coin than to analyze the law. Well, not really. The point, however, is that this could easily be overturned, though the courts do appear to be less enthusiastic about software patents. We’ll see if ArtistShare appeals.
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Rob Bodine is a Virginia attorney focusing his practice on real estate and intellectual property law. He’s currently Virginia counsel with First Class Title, Inc., a Maryland title insurance and settlement company. Rob is also a licensed title insurance agent in Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.