The US Supreme Court is wading into the battle over software patents by agreeing to hear a case between two financial firms you've likely never heard of. This comes just as the legislative arm of the government is getting ready to address the problem of patent trolls. (There's not much Republicans and Democrats can agree on, but a hatred of trolls is apparently one of them.) The hope is that both the Supreme Court and Congress will address what many see as the largest problem with the American patent system: low quality patents and frivolous law suits.
Alice Corporation, which runs a derivatives market, charges that foreign currency exchange firm CLS Bank Internation violated a number of its patents relating to computer-based trading systems invented in the 1990s. The defense has argued that four of the patents in the question are invalid, and twice lower courts have agreed with them, both in March of 2011 and in May of this year. The most recent ruling, handed down by a divided appeals court, found that Alice's claims were too vague to be protected under patent law.