I came across this article:


Tinder's patents:


However, a pivotal shift occurred four years ago with the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International. This ruling, commonly known as the Alice decision, established new guidelines for patenting software. It clarified that if an abstract idea is merely implemented using a computer or the Internet, it remains an abstract idea and is not eligible for patent protection.

Based upon the above quote that if an abstract idea is merely implemented using a computer or the Internet, it remains an abstract idea and is not eligible for patent protection., then doesn't that make all software unpatentable?

Every piece of software is just an abstract idea implementable only by a computer or the internet?

Also, anyone knows what is the outcome of the lawsuit between Bumble and Tinder. Was Tinder's patent invalidated? What were the precise arguments made by Bumble?


2 Answers 2


I actually have a few “software” patents. An algorithm by itself is considered abstract. However an algorithm applied to a specific application may not be. I’m my case, I devised a mathematical algorithm to analyze polymerase chain reactions. So the algorithm isn’t patentable, but the application of the algorithm to PCR assay analysis is.

  • If an abstract idea can indeed be implemented, albeit, only by a computer or the internet, why isn't that patentable? Commented Feb 28 at 17:42
  • Just noting that there was a "specific application" in the claims at issue in Alice as well; one should try to distinguish somehow else in practice.
    – bhuff36
    Commented Feb 28 at 18:15
  • 1
    @BearBileFarmingisTorture it isn’t that it's done on a computer that makes it patentable, it’s that it is applied to a tangible application. An equation is abstract. Coding the equation on a computer doesn’t change that. Implementing the equation to reduce the size of computer files might be patentable.
    – Eric S
    Commented Feb 28 at 23:34
  • what about the specific patents presented in this page, ie Tinder's swipe patents? I don't see how they are only abstract. All of those features are functional and is applied to matching people for romance. This seems to be a concrete and useful invention, then. Commented Feb 29 at 0:08
  • @BearBileFarmingisTorture I don’t have time at present to analyze the documents cited. If you would provide embedded links it would make it easier for people to help you. Also, only two of the documents are patents, the other is an application.
    – Eric S
    Commented Feb 29 at 1:49

Every piece of software is just an abstract idea [...]?

Not quite, from MPEP 2106:

Because abstract ideas, laws of nature, and natural phenomenon "are the basic tools of scientific and technological work", the Supreme Court has expressed concern that monopolizing these tools by granting patent rights may impede innovation rather than promote it.

Thus, "abstract idea" does not invoke "abstract" in the same sense as "software is abstract". While the exact boundaries are probably somewhat fluid, we can hopefully agree that not all software qualifies as a "basic tool of scientific and technological work".

It's more in the sense of "addition is abstract, a ripple-carry adder is much less so." The abstract idea exception establishes a cutoff in the level of abstraction that one could patent a ripple-carry adder, even if it was the first adder ever. It wouldn't be allowed to capture the entire concept of addition.

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