Case 9: Gottschalk v. Benson (1972)

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Benson et al. filed for a patent for converting binary coded decimal numbers into pure binary numbers in a method not specific to a certain application or apparatus. They attempted to claim for any use of their system in a general-purpose digital computer. The Supreme Courted granted certiorari to determine whether or not the claim constituted a "process" under U.S. patent law. The claims in question are algorithms, or procedures by which a computer may solve a mathematical problem. In this case, the algorithm converts numbers from one form to the other. New programs may be written based on this basic function of the computer.

The new system converts BCD numbers into pure binary numbers. This means that instead of creating a string of four ones or zeros to represent each individual place in a number, one string of several ones or zeros are used to signify a single, aggregate number. These calculations do not require any new technology or systems; old computers long in use may be used, as well as no computers at all.

Mackay stated that while neither scientific principles nor mathematical formulas may be patented, a new and useful structure developed from the knowledge of such a truth may be. This ruling was another expression