Gottschalk v. Benson (KyleR)

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  • 1972
  • "The patent sought is on a method of programming a general-purpose digital computer to convert signals from binary-coded decimal form into pure binary form"
    • this constitutes an "algorithm"
  • decided that this is not patentable process because it is merely a series of mathematical calculations or mental steps
  • "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"
  • "It is conceded that one may not patent an idea. But in practical effect that would be the result if the formula for converting BCD numerals to pure binary numerals were patented in this case. The mathematical formula involved here has no substantial practical application except in connection with a digital computer, which means that if the judgment below is affirmed, the patent would wholly pre-empt the mathematical formula and in practical effect would be a patent on the algorithm itself."
  • If computer programs are patentable, significant problems arise regarding the vast increase in the field of patentablity. Only Congress can manage this change.


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