If you've been carefully building a patent portfolio... every business process patent you have or are working on is probably "trash on the beach" thanks to the US Supreme Court unleashing "Hurricane Alice". It's one of the biggest patent cases that you've probably never heard of and chances are your patent attorney probably didn't bring it front and center to your attention. Why? Because the supreme court has given every federal court in the land the precedence of "obvious" business processes not being patentable. The case? Alice Corporation vs CLS Bank. The decision? Unanimous that a bank's patent claims about processing digital bank records was an abstract idea and could not be patentable.
The implications are huge for business patents because the surpremes basically said if something is obvious and often done in the real world then turning it to software does not meet the criteria for being patentable. And with that, billions of dollars in patent work just blew out the door.
The worst part? The supremes didn't provide any specific test guidelines. Often to help guide lower courts, the supremes will outline a logical test to determine if something meets a definition or not. In this case -- there is pretty much nothing. What are the implications? Just about any Federal Judge who doesn't understand the finer details of technology, and let's face it that's most, can simply throw out a case by saying Alice Corp.
The good news is it's much more unlikely that "patent trolls", people who buy rights to worthless software patents and sue just to get settlements, will be in the dog house. So your software business is less likely to get attacked. The bad news is if you've been heavily relying on software and business process patents to be the value of your business or its protector then you're probably SOL. EVERYTHING is now of questionable value. It also means that business process patents probably should NOT be part of your overall business strategy. There are a few exceptions such as proprietary algorithms, etc. but be very careful your patent attorney can be trusted to give a FAIR AND OBJECTIVE opinion. After all, patent attorneys should be seeing a lot less work because of this case. Whether they'll tell you about it is a different case.
Other types of patents such as utility or use patents are safe from "hurricane" Alice. If you rely on engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, etc. and all the complexities that make your business better then patents in these areas (physical) are untouched.
Here is a link to a good editorial article that pulls specific court language, etc.
Seth Temko Entrepreneur, Marketer, Technologist