U.S. District Judge Beth Freeman of the Northern District of California on Tuesday sided with lawyers for ServiceNow Inc. that four HP patents related to IT outsourcing cover abstract ideas which cannot be patented. Freeman’s decision rested heavily on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Alice v. CLS Bank, which set a high bar for the patentability of certain computer-implemented inventions.
UC-Hastings College of Law Professor Robin Feldman said she wasn’t surprised to see Alice wielded successfully against a Silicon Valley stalwart like HP. Established tech companies, as well as so-called patent trolls, have “applied for the type of broadly worded patents that were slapped down in Alice,” she said.
“Everyone has been hedging bets in recent years, but patent rules must apply to all,” Feldman said. “Innovation benefits from elimination of this style of patenting, and that is good for the Valley.”