The U.S. Supreme Court made it easier for lower courts to turn away software patent infringement lawsuits, ruling unanimously that patents are not applicable to the computerization of general ideas.

A federal appellate court split on what legal test to apply to the case, which stemmed from a dispute between New York-based CLS International and Australia-based Alice Corp. over a patent for a method of settling foreign-exchange transactions.

While the Supreme Court’s opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, didn’t create new law, it used current patent law in a concise manner to clarify things for software companies and their attorneys.

“It is a very important decision that gives a clear framework—a comprehensive framework—for deciding when something is patentable,” said Brian W. LaCorte, a Ballard Spahr intellectual property attorney who defends patent infringement cases. “It weeds out a lot of baloney patents.”

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