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U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether software can be patented

WASHINGTON, Dec 6 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to decide a question of key importance to the software industry by considering what kind of computer-related processes are eligible for patent protection.

The court said in a one-line order that it would hear a case brought by Alice Corporation Pty Ltd, which holds a patent for a computer system that facilitates financial transactions. The patent is challenged by CLS Bank International. The court took no action on another case raising the same issue involving a patent dispute between WildTangent Inc, and Ultramercial Inc.

Google Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co, Facebook Inc and Netflix Inc are among those that signed on to friend-of-the court briefs urging that the court intervene.