JPMorgan seeks patent limits

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Patents have been a huge issue in the banking industry, as lots of judgments against banks have led the industry to seek relief, sometimes successfully, in Washington. Much of the controversy has surrounded business method patents. But a close cousin of these patents, software patents, has also generated controversy in the industry, as some major software patent trolls have emerged.

The issue is whether software patents truly protect innovative products or whether patents have been issued on garden-variety code that is anything but innovative at its core. Right now, a case brought by JPMorgan Chase is wending its ways through the court system.

Bloomberg reports that, "The patents before the Federal Circuit concern a computerized method for using an intermediary to make sure buyers and sellers meet their obligations in stock and currency trading. Patent owner Alice Corp., an Australian company jointly owned by National Australia Bank Ltd. and Alice Ventures Pty, filed infringement claims in 2007 against CLS Bank International, which settles about $4.5 billion foreign-exchange transactions daily."

It also notes that, "A federal judge in Washington ruled in 2011 that the idea of using an intermediary to settle trades isn't eligible for a patent, and computerizing the notion didn't make it patentable. In a 2-1 decision in July, the appeals court reversed that decision, ruling that Alice's suit should proceed because the patents cover 'practical applications of the invention' and not an abstract idea."

As software patents loom as a bigger threat to all in the industry, the decision will be closely watched.

For more:
- here's the Bloomberg article