Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175 (1981)(Robins)
Patent upheld in USSC, voted 5-4.
Process of molding raw uncured synthetic rubber into cured precision products.
Claim industry had difficulty calculating the correct time to cure rubber.
Patent examiner rejected on the ground it wasnt USC 101. Patent appeals board agreed but court of customs and patent appeals reversed.
respondents do not seek to patent a mathematical formula, but instead seek protection for a process of curing synthetic rubber.
Just because something uses a mathematical formula, doesnt make it unpatentable.
When a claim containing a mathematical formula implements or applies the formula in a structure or process which, when considered as a whole, is performing a function which the patent laws were designed to protect ( e. g., transforming or reducing an article to a different state or thing), then the claim satisfies § 101's requirements
Respondants hold that calcuateing the time in the mold was difficult because accurate temperatures of the mold were difficult to measure.
This lead to underestimates across the industry for cure time.
Respondants claim process is: constantly feed temperature numbers to a computer which repeatedly recalcultes cure time using Arrhenius equation.
the term “process” was not added to 35 U.S.C. § 101 until 1952, but processes were patented before that under the heading "art"
Large difference between this and Gottschalk v Benson:
- That respondents' claims involve the transformation of an article, in this case raw, uncured synthetic rubber, into a different state or thing cannot be disputed.
- Our recent holdings in Gottschalk v. Benson, supra, and Parker v. Flook, supra, both of which are computer-related, stand for no more than these long-established principles. In Benson, we held unpatentable claims for an algorithm used to convert binary code decimal numbers to equivalent pure binary numbers. The sole practical application of the algorithm was in connection with the programming of a general purpose digital computer. We defined “algorithm” as a “procedure for solving a given type of mathematical problem,” and we concluded that such an algorithm, or mathematical formula, is like a law of nature, which cannot be the subject of a patent.
Only up for decision is USC 101, not 102 or 103, those still are up for challenge.
Justice STEVENS, with whom Justice BRENNAN, Justice MARSHALL, and Justice BLACKMUN join, dissenting.
doctrine was regularly invoked to deny patents to inventions consisting primarily of mathematical formulae or methods of computation
1968, a dramatic change in the law overruled the line of cases developing and applying the “function of a machine” doctrine also overruled the mental steps doctrine.
Then new rulings in 1970
The court also announced a new standard for evaluating process claims under § 101: any sequence of operational steps was a patentable process under § 101 as long as it was within the “technological arts.”
REASON FOR DISSENT:
After Noll and CHatfield Court said that they should only stop a patent if it would pre-empt the algorithm itself. HOwever in Flook Case, they elaborated that rule was not limited to only pre-empting alorithms, but included improvements on the algorithms even when employed as part of a physical process.
They claim the actual patent filed is not on the process as the courts ruling stated, but on the algorithm in the computer process for improving time calculations.
3 explicit reasons:
- nothing in patent app about new temp measuring devices.
- idea of constantly taking temp had been used for awhile, therefore the process was not new
- The patent office stated the only difference with this process was the mathematical problem, which is not patentable.
alarm limit case, was said to be simply a mathematical advance so even if it is part of a physical process it is not patentable.
Flook case as dissenters say is misapplied as it shows that the process for this was not new, only the math. Majority claims the patent is on the process and doesnt argue novelty at all.
Dissenters also reccommend legislative action.