# Gottschalk v. Benson (JWB)

From Bill Goodwine's Wiki

## The Case

- Gottschalk, acting Commissioner of Patents (petitioner)
- Respondent developed method for converting numerical information from binary-coded decimal numbers into pure binary numbers
- ruled merely a series of mathematical calculations or mental steps (not a patentable “process”)
- Claims 8 and 13 rejected by PTO but sustained by Court of Customs and Patent Appeals
- claims are generalized formulation for programs to solve mathematical problems of converting one form to another

- Supreme Court reversed
- conversion can be done by humans, or by current computers (takes longer)
- Phenomena of nature, though just discovered, mental processes, and abstract intellectual concepts are not patentable
- Transformation and reduction of an article "to a different state or thing" is the clue to the patentability of a process claim that does not include particular machines
- the patent would wholly pre-empt the mathematical formula and in practical effect would be a patent on the algorithm itself