Arrhythmia Research Technology, Inc. v. Corazonix Corp., 958 F.2d 1053 (1992) Notes

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  • United States Court of Appeals, Federal Circuit
    • authority over district courts, but bound by what SC said in past
  • ARRHYTHMIA RESEARCH TECHNOLOGY, INC., Plaintiff-filed appeal, didnt like ruling that subject matter wasnt statutory, so appealed and ended up winning
  • CORAZONIX CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee.
  • PTO gave the patent without questioning statutory subject matter initially
  • Arrhythmia Research Technology, Inc. appeals the grant of summary judgment by the United States District Court
  • We conclude that the claimed subject matter is statutory
    • reversed


analysis of electrocardiographic signals in order to determine certain characteristics of the heart function.

  • ppl more vulnerable to this problem right after heart attacks
  • could take medication, but nasty side effects
  • sought a solution to the problem of determining which heart attack victims are at high risk for ventricular tachycardia, so that these persons can be carefully monitored and appropriately treated.
  • known: low amp, high freq waves seen for ppl vulnerable
  • Dr. Simson's method of detecting and measuring these late potentials in the QRS complex, and associated apparatus, are the subject of the '459 patent
  • step of reverse time order filtering is described as the critical feature of the Simson invention, in that it enables detection of the late potentials by eliminating certain perturbations that obscure these signals

district court held that the method and apparatus claims of the Simson patent are directed to a mathematical algorithm, and thus do not define statutory subject matter

statutory presumption of validity is based in part on recognition of the expertise of patent examiners

  • Supreme Court has observed that Congress intended section 101 to include “anything under the sun that is made by man.” Diamond v. Chakrabarty
  • Excluded from patentability is subject matter in the categories of “laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas”. Diamond v. Diehr
  • whether the claim is directed to a new and useful process, independent of whether the mathematical algorithm required for its performance is novel, Parker v. Flook
    • “once that algorithm is assumed to be within the prior art, the application, considered as a whole, contains no patentable invention

Court going completely on precedent

  • determine whether the process itself was new and useful, assuming the mathematical algorithm was “well known
  • this is only how the computer does what it does. Of importance is the significance of the data and their manipulation in the real world, i.e., what the computer is doing

Meyer method for determining patentability of comp program related cases:

  • be determined whether a scientific principle, law of nature, idea, or mental process, which may be represented by a mathematical algorithm, is included in the subject matter of the claim
  • If it is, it must then be determined whether such principle, law, idea, or mental process is applied in an invention of a type set forth in 35 USC 101

Freeman-Walter-Abele test for statutory subject matter - what they use for this case

  • first determined whether a mathematical algorithm is recited directly or indirectly in the claim
  • next determined whether the claimed invention as a whole is no more than the algorithm itself - nonstatutory if so
  • when the mathematical algorithm is applied in one or more steps of an otherwise statutory process claim, or one or more elements of an otherwise statutory apparatus claim, the requirements of section 101 are met.
    • emphasis is “on what the claimed method steps do rather than how the steps are performed”.

Arrhythmia Research states:

  • combination of physical, mechanical, and electrical steps that are described and claimed in the '459 patent constitutes statutory subject matter
  • claims are directed to a process and apparatus for detecting and analyzing a specific heart activity signal, and do not preempt the mathematical algorithms used in any of the procedures
  • novel method of analyzing a portion of the electrocardiographically measured heart cycle

Corazonix states:

  • no more than a mathematical algorithm that calculates a number
  • designation of a field of use and post-solution activity are not essential to the claims and thus do not cure this defect

Court's approach:

  • accept mathematical algorithm is included in the subject matter
    • The view that “there is nothing necessarily physical about ‘signals' ” is incorrect
  • steps of Simson's claimed method comprise an otherwise statutory process whose mathematical procedures are applied to physical process steps-so statutory*determine what the claimed steps do, independent of how they are implemented
  • the Simson invention is properly viewed as an electrocardiograph analysis process
  • That Simson's claimed functions could not have been performed effectively without the speed and capability of electronic devices and components does not determine whether the claims are statutory.
  • That the product is numerical is not a criterion of whether the claim is directed to statutory subject matter
    • output is a number, but it represents something about the heart condition

So...order reversed, patent is statutory matter

Concurring judge:

  • I too conclude that the '459 patent claims patentable subject matter-not on the basis of a two-step post- Benson test, but on the basis of the patentable subject matter standards in title 35. Rather than perpetuate a nonstatutory standard, I would find that the subject matter of the '459 patent satisfies the statutory standards of the Patent Act.
  • Act, by its terms, extends patent protection to “any” machine or process which satisfies the other conditions of patentability
  • [section 101] - no implication that the Act extends patent protection to some subcategories of machines or processes and not to others.
  • dont confuse “mathematical algorithms” with calculations, formulas, and mathematical procedures generally
  • cant use 2 step process
  • actually follow patent law in diehr
    • court should refrain from employing judicially-created tests to limit section 101. (saying algorithms cant be patented when not stated in code)
    • dont use algorithm rule, but rather follow code (anything under the sun...)

Regardless of whether performed by a computer, these steps comprise a “process” within the meaning of section 101

  • problems with original ruling:
    • even if mathematical algorithms are barred from patentability,[7] the '459 patent as a whole does not present a mathematical algorithm
    • patent does not claim a natural law, abstract idea, or natural phenomenon
    • Diehr refocused the patentability inquiry on the terms of the Patent Act rather than on non-statutory, vague classifications


  • dont follow these non-statutory "rules" of patentability like algorithm rule used in Benson
  • follow precedend set by Diehr and actually use the statute to guide your decision