The Supreme Court said on Monday it would hear the Bilski patent case, which would tell high tech and software companies how far they could go in patenting software, financial strategies and other abstract processes.
An appeals court which specializes in patent cases had ruled in October that the Patent Office was correct in refusing to allow Bernard Bilski and Rand Warsaw's company Weatherwise to patent a method for hedging against energy cost changes.
That court said the hedging method could not be patented because it was not tied to a machine and did not result in a transformation.
But this seemingly narrow case has implications for any company that hopes to patent a business method. One of the best known examples of a business method patent is Amazon.com Inc's one-click process to buy goods on the Internet.