From the NY Times:
The Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a case about what kind of inventions deserve patents. The businessmen who came up with a method for hedging financial risk in energy trading sued the Patent and Trademark Office after it denied them a patent.
Allowing an abstraction of this kind to be protected would take patent law too far.
Patents perform a useful function, promoting innovation by ensuring inventors the right to profit from their creations for a period of time. But overprotection through patents is as dangerous as underprotection. It can stifle competition and infringe on the rights of non-patent holders. Not every bright idea should be protected as a property right.