Bilski v. Kappos SKH

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  • The Patent Act specifies four independent categories of inventions or discoveries that are eligible for protection: processes, machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter.
  • In choosing the Patent Act's expansive terms for specifying the four independent categories of inventions or discoveries that are eligible for protection, namely processes, machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter, modified by the comprehensive “any,” Congress plainly contemplated that the patent laws would be given wide scope.
  • Congress took a permissive approach to patent eligibility to ensure that ingenuity should receive a liberal encouragement.
  • There are three specific exceptions to the Patent Act's broad patent-eligibility principles, namely laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas; while these exceptions are not required by the statutory text, they are consistent with the notion that a patentable process must be new and useful, and the concepts covered by these exceptions are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men, free to all men, and reserved exclusively to none.
  • The patent-eligibility inquiry into whether a claimed invention is a process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter is only a threshold test for patent protection.
  • Even if an invention qualifies as a process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, in order to receive the Patent Act's protection the claimed invention must also be novel, nonobvious, and fully and particularly described.
  • In patent law, as in all statutory construction, unless otherwise defined, words will be interpreted as taking their ordinary, contemporary, common meaning.
  • The “machine-or-transformation test,” which provides a claimed invention is not patentable if it is not tied to a machine and does not transform an article, is not the sole test for determining the patent eligibility of a process; the test is a useful and important clue, an investigative tool, for determining whether some claimed inventions are patent-eligible processes.
  • Under the doctrine of “noscitur a sociis,” an ambiguous term may be given more precise content by the neighboring words with which it is associated.
  • Patent Act provision defining the subject matter that may be patented is dynamic and designed to encompass new and unforeseen inventions.
  • A categorical rule denying patent protection for inventions in areas not contemplated by Congress would frustrate the purposes of the Patent Act.
  • A patent-eligible “process” may include at least some methods of doing business.
  • The canon against interpreting any statutory provision in a manner that would render another provision superfluous applies to interpreting any two provisions in the United States Code, even when Congress enacted the provisions at different times; the canon cannot be overcome by judicial speculation as to the subjective intent of various legislators in enacting the subsequent provision.
  • The requirements for receiving patent protection, that any claimed invention must be novel, nonobvious, and fully and particularly described, serve a critical role in adjusting the tension, ever present in patent law, between stimulating innovation by protecting inventors and impeding progress by granting patents when not justified by the statutory design.
  • Claimed invention that explained how buyers and sellers of commodities in the energy market could protect, or hedge, against the risk of price changes and that reduced this concept of hedging to a mathematical formula was an “abstract idea,” and thus was not a patentable “process.”
  • Limiting an abstract idea to one field of use or adding token postsolution components do not make the concept patentable.