No. 08-964 
================================================================ 
In The 
Supreme Court of the United States 
----------------- ♦ ----------------- 
BERNARD L. BILSKI and RAND A. WARSAW, 
Petitioners,        
v. 
JOHN J. DOLL, Acting Under Secretary of 
Commerce for Intellectual Property and 
Acting Director, Patent and Trademark Office, 
Respondent.        
----------------- ♦ ----------------- 
On Writ Of Certiorari To The 
United States Court Of Appeals 
For The Federal Circuit 
----------------- ♦ ----------------- 
BRIEF OF THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW 
ASSOCIATION OF CHICAGO AS AMICUS CURIAE 
SUPPORTING NEITHER PARTY 
----------------- ♦ ----------------- 
EDWARD D. MANZO 
Of Counsel:
COOK ALEX LTD. 
DONALD W. RUPERT 
200 W. Adams, Suite 2850 
MARSHALL, GERSTEIN &
Chicago, IL 60606 
  BORUN LLP 
312-236-8500 
233 South Wacker Drive
Counsel of Record for 
6300 Sears Tower 
 Amicus 
Curiae, 
Chicago, IL 60606 
 The 
Intellectual 
Property 
312-474-6300 
  Law Association of Chicago 
Of Counsel
PATRICK G. BURNS 
JOHN R. CROSSAN 
President, THE INTELLECTUAL 
CROSSAN INTELLECTUAL
  PROPERTY LAW ASSOCIATION 
  PROPERTY LAW, LLC 
  OF CHICAGO 
70 W. Madison St., 
P.O. Box 472 
  Suite 5050 
Chicago, IL 60609 
Chicago, IL 60602 
312-987-1416 
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TABLE OF CONTENTS 
Page 
Interest of Amicus Curiae ....................................  

Summary of Argument ........................................  

Argument .............................................................  

     I.    The  Federal  Circuit’s  Rigid  “Machine-or-
Transformation” Test Would Exclude In-
ventions This Court Has Previously 
Sustained ...................................................  

    II.   The “We Do Not Hold” Precedents Mili-
tate Against a Rigid Rule ..........................   14 
  III.   Subsequent  Precedents of This Court 
Also Militate Against a Rigid Rule ............   17 
   IV.    Congress  Has  Shown  How  It  Intends  To 
Deal With Certain Classes of Invention, 
and Has Shown No Desire To Exclude 
Business Methods Generally .....................   18 
    V.    A Recommended Test .................................   20 
  VI.    The  Court  Should  Encourage  Further 
Federal Circuit Development of This 
Jurisprudence ............................................   21 
 VII.    The Present Patent Application Claims ....   24 
Conclusion............................................................  25 
 

ii 
 
TABLE OF AUTHORITIES 
Page 
CASES 
Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303, 100 
S.Ct. 2204 (1980) ........................................... 5, 17, 20 
Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175, 101 S.Ct. 1048 
(1981) ......................................................... 4,  7, 17, 20 
Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U.S. 63 (1972) .... 14, 15, 17, 18 
Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 86 S.Ct. 
684 (1966) ...................................................... 4, 15, 16 
In re Alappat, 33 F.3d 1526 (Fed. Cir. 1994) 
(en banc) ............................................................ 22, 23 
In re Bilski, 545 F.3d 943 (Fed. Cir. 2008) 
(en banc) .................................................... 5, 7, 14, 21 
KSR Int’l. Co. v. Teleflex, Inc., 550 U.S. 398, 
127 S.Ct. 1727 (2007) ................................................ 9 
O’Reilly v. Morse, 15 How. 62, 56 U.S. 62 
(1853) ............................................................. 9, 10, 11 
Parker v. Flook, 437 U.S. 584, 98 S.Ct. 2522 
(1978) ........................................................... 14, 15, 18 
State Street Bank & Trust Co. v. Signature 
Financial Group, Inc., 149 F.3d 1368 
(Fed. Cir. 1998) ........................................................ 23 
 
CONSTITUTION AND STATUTES 
U.S. CONST., Article I, Sec. 8 ........................................ 3 
35 U.S.C. § 100(b) ......................................................... 6 
35 U.S.C. § 101 ................................................... passim 

iii 
 
TABLE OF AUTHORITIES – Continued 
Page 
35 U.S.C. § 102 ................................................. 3, 20, 24 
35 U.S.C. § 103 ................................................... 3, 8, 24 
35 U.S.C. § 112 ........................................................ 3, 24 
35 U.S.C. § 273 ........................................................... 19 
35 U.S.C. § 287(c)(1) ................................................... 19 
 
OTHER 
H.R. 5346, 106th Cong. (2d Sess. 2000) ..................... 20 
H.R. 1332, 107th Cong. (1st Sess. 2001) .................... 20 
H.R. 5299, 108th Cong. (2d Sess. 2004) ..................... 20 


INTEREST OF AMICUS CURIAE 
 
Founded in 1884, the Intellectual Property Law 
Association of Chicago (IPLAC) is a voluntary bar 
association of over 1,000 members who work daily 
with patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, 
and the legal issues that such intellectual property 
presents.1 IPLAC is the country’s oldest bar associa-
tion devoted exclusively to intellectual property 
matters. Its members include attorneys in private 
and corporate practice as well as government service, 
whose work routinely involves intellectual property 
rights. Many of its members are admitted to practice 
before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) 
as well as state and federal bars throughout the 
United States. Its members and the businesses they 
serve are involved in literally every technological and 
scientific discipline existing today, e.g., chemistry, 
electronics, computer hardware and software, 
 
 
1  Consents to file this brief from the counsel of record for all 
parties are on file with the Clerk of the Court pursuant to 
Supreme Court Rule 37.3(a). This brief was not authored, in 
whole or in part, by counsel to a party, and no monetary 
contribution to the preparation or submission of this brief was 
made by any person or entity other than IPLAC or its counsel. 
After reasonable investigation, IPLAC believes that no member 
of its Board or Litigation or Amicus Committee who voted to 
prepare this brief on its behalf, or any attorney in the law firm 
or corporation of such a board or committee member, represents 
a party with respect to this litigation. Some committee members 
or attorneys in their respective law firms or corporations may 
represent entities that have an interest in other matters which 
may be affected by the outcome of this litigation. 


biotechnology, green technology, nanotechnology, and 
many others. In the litigation context, IPLAC’s 
members are split about equally between plaintiffs 
and defendants, with all of these technologies 
routinely litigated.2 
 
As part of its central objectives, IPLAC is 
dedicated to aiding in the development of the patent 
laws both in the PTO and in the courts. Accordingly, 
IPLAC has a vital interest in the issue presented by 
this case, which will have a far-reaching impact on 
patent rights. The question before this Court is 
whether a process can be considered for patent 
eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 only if the process is 
tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or 
transforms a particular article into a different state 
or thing (“machine-or-transformation” test). The 
Federal Circuit adopted this rigid test in the face of 
this Court’s precedent which mandates a broader 
application of Section 101. Section 101 fulfills a 
gatekeeper function to ensure that certain types of 
inventions are not subject to patent coverage. This 
Court has defined such excluded inventions as those 
which seek patents on natural phenomena, laws of 
nature, or abstract ideas. Apart from these categories, 
this Court has considered Section 101 to be a broad 
provision that accords patent eligibility to “any new 
and useful process . . . ” [emphasis added]. This 
 
 
2 While over 30 federal judges are honorary members of 
IPLAC,  none  of  them  was  consulted  or  participated  in  any  way 
regarding this brief. 


construction is in keeping with the Constitutional 
power vested in Congress, “To promote the Progress 
of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited 
Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to 
their respective Writings and Discoveries.” U.S. 
CONST., Article I, Sec. 8. Once an invention meets the 
broad patent eligibility requirements of Section 101, 
other substantive portions of the patent statute are 
used to determine if the invention is novel, non-
obvious, and otherwise deserving of patent protection. 
Seee.g., 35 U.S.C. §§ 102, 103, 112. 
----------------- ♦ ----------------- 
 
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT 
 
The Federal Circuit’s rigid “machine-or-
transformation” test must be rejected as the sole test 
for determining whether a process invention is 
patent-eligible (“statutory”). That test is too narrow 
and does not comport with this Court’s expansive 
view of Section 101 and the Court’s actual 
applications of Section 101. 
----------------- ♦ ----------------- 
 
ARGUMENT 
 
The Bilski invention is a method for organizing 
business events or for conserving assets (i.e., lowering 
future costs of goods to be purchased in a changing 
economic climate). This invention failed the Federal 
Circuit’s “machine-or-transformation” test and was 
pronounced ineligible for patent. 


 
IPLAC urges this Court to reject the Federal 
Circuit’s rigid “machine-or-transformation” rule, as 
inconsistent with Section 101 of the patent statute, 
35 U.S.C. § 
101, in favor of this Court’s long-
established tests, such as were reaffirmed twenty-
eight years ago in Diehr.3 IPLAC takes no position on 
whether the invention in the Bilski patent application 
is patent-eligible under either this Court’s existing 
tests or the new one announced by the Federal 
Circuit.  
 
The primary issue before the Court is the proper 
interpretation of 35 U.S.C. § 
101 and what 
constitutes patent-eligible subject matter under that 
statute. This issue is not new. For over two centuries, 
the patent laws of this country have been viewed as a 
way to encourage innovation. Indeed, in 1807, 
Thomas Jefferson recognized that personal ingenuity 
should be fostered when he wrote, “Nobody wishes 
more than I do that ingenuity should receive a liberal 
encouragement.”4 Such “liberal encouragement” is 
embodied in Section 101, which as this Court 
explained in 1980 is a broad provision:  
The subject-matter provisions of the patent 
law have been cast in broad terms to fulfill 
the constitutional and statutory goal of 
promoting “the Progress of Science and the 
 
 
3  Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175, 101 S.Ct. 1048 (1981). 
 
4  Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 8, 86 S.Ct. 684, 689 
(1966), quoting Letter to Oliver Evans (May 1807), 5 Writings of 
Thomas Jefferson, at 75-76 (Washington ed.). 


useful Arts” with all that means for the 
social and economic benefits envisioned by 
Jefferson. Broad general language is not 
necessarily ambiguous when congressional 
objectives require broad terms. 
Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 477 U.S. 303, 315, 100 S.Ct. 
2204 (1980) (quoting U.S. CONST. Art. I, § 8, which 
declares that the purpose of the patent system is “to 
promote the Progress of . . . useful Arts . . . ”). 
 
However, the Federal Circuit has now wandered 
from Jefferson’s ideal and from the decisions of this 
Court, essentially rewriting Section 101 to restrict its 
scope in a way that neither Congress nor this Court 
have previously approved. The Federal Circuit has 
stated  en banc that subject matter is patent-eligible 
under Section 101 only if it meets that court’s newly-
enunciated “machine-or-transformation” test. The 
Federal Circuit majority emphasized that this test is 
the exclusive Section 101 test by reiterating it no less 
than four times. See,  e.g.,  In re Bilski, 545 F.3d 943 
(Fed. Cir. 2008) at 956 (“ . . . we . . . reaffirm that the 
machine-or transformation test, properly applied is 
the governing test for determining patent eligibility 
of a process under § 101”); 959 (“Rather, the machine-
or-transformation test is the applicable test for 
patent-eligible subject matter.”); 959-60 (“Therefore, 
we also conclude that the “useful, concrete and 
tangible result” inquiry is inadequate and reaffirm 
that the machine-or-transformation test outlined by 
the Supreme Court is the proper test to apply”); and 
961 (“Thus, the proper inquiry under § 101 is not 


whether the process claim recites sufficient ‘physical 
steps,’ but rather whether the claim meets the 
machine-or-transformation test.”). 
 
The breadth of Section 101 is found in its words. 
It states: 
Whoever invents or discovers any new and 
useful process, machine, manufacture, or 
composition of matter, or any new and useful 
improvement thereof, may obtain a patent 
therefor, subject to the conditions and 
requirements of this title. 
 
The Federal Circuit has rewritten this straight-
forward statute by adding a requirement that is 
nowhere authorized nor implied. The statute, as the 
Federal Circuit sees it, now must be read as con-
taining the emphasized language: 
Whoever invents or discovers any new and 
useful process, machine, manufacture, or 
composition of matter, or any new and useful 
improvement thereof, may obtain a patent 
therefor, subject to the conditions and 
requirements of this title, provided that no 
process nor improvement thereof shall be 
deemed eligible for a patent under this 
Section 101 unless it either is performed by a 
specifically identified machine or transforms 
an article from one state to another
 
Indeed, the Federal Circuit’s new test ignores the 
definition of “process” found in 35 U.S.C. § 100(b) 
(“The term ‘process’ means process, art or method, 
and includes a new use of a known process, machine, 


manufacture, composition of matter, or material.”). 
This definition, added to the Patent Act in 1952, is 
not limited to a process that is performed on a specific 
machine or one that transforms the state of an 
article. The Federal Circuit noted the presence of the 
definition but deemed it “unhelpful given that the 
definition itself uses the term ‘process.’ ” In re Bilski
545 F.3d at 951, n.3. The Federal Circuit’s rigid test 
affects this definitional Section as well. 
 
IPLAC submits that it is inappropriate to rewrite 
Section 101, as the Federal Circuit has done. Rather, 
the statute can be properly applied by reaffirming its 
breadth and confirming, as this Court did in 
Diamond v. Diehr, that the only limits to patent 
eligibility are those that bar patent protection on 
“laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract 
ideas.” All other useful processes, etc., are eligible 
subject matter for patent protection. See IPLAC’s 
proposed test, Sec. V infra
 
Human ingenuity extends far beyond processes of 
making or transforming things. IPLAC submits that 
the Federal Circuit’s bright-line rule specifying 
eligible subject matter for patenting is contrary to the 
statute, as is confirmed by rulings of this Court that 
have twice affirmatively rejected such a narrow 
interpretation. If any bright-line rule belongs in this 
subject area, such a rule should focus on what is 
rightly excluded, just as the Court’s rule in Diehr did. 
IPLAC submits that limitations regarding eligibility 
for the patenting of methods should be confined to 
denying patents which claim laws of nature, the mere 


discovery of physical phenomena, and abstract ideas, 
and that this Court should affirm its long-held 
opinion that patents for processes which accomplish 
“new and useful” results are eligible for patenting. 
 
I. 
The Federal Circuit’s Rigid “Machine-or-
Transformation” Test Would Exclude In-
ventions This Court Has Previously 
Sustained 
 
IPLAC acknowledges that if an invention meets 
the “machine-or-transformation” test, that invention 
is patent-eligible, i.e., it is “statutory subject matter” 
under 35 U.S.C. § 101. However, the converse is not 
always true. That is, even if a process does not meet 
the machine-or-transformation test, it can still be 
patent eligible under this Court’s precedent.  
 
The Federal Circuit’s machine-or-transformation 
test is akin to its “teaching-suggestion-motivation” 
(TSM) test that was used to determine if a patent 
claim was obvious, and hence invalid, under 35 
U.S.C. § 103. Both tests are rigid in that each was 
designed to be applied in a formulistic fashion. Under 
TSM, if a prior art reference did not reasonably teach, 
suggest, or motivate one to combine the prior art to 
arrive at the claimed invention, then the reference 
did not support obviousness. This Court rejected the 
TSM test as the one and only test to be applied in 
judging obviousness and reaffirmed that obviousness 


is not the prisoner of formula.5 The Court noted that 
TSM may, of course, be used, but that the test is not 
the exclusive measure of patent obviousness.  
 
The Federal Circuit’s “machine-or-transformation” 
test mandates that there simply is no statutory 
subject matter unless the invented process uses a 
specific “machine” or “transforms” the state of an 
article. Although the “machine-or-transformation” 
test may be useful as one test for establishing some 
inventions as patent-eligible, it is not appropriate to 
use that test as the sole measure of patent eligibility. 
This Court’s decision in O’Reilly v. Morse, 15 How. 62, 
56 U.S. 62 (1853), highlights this point. 
 In 
O’Reilly v. Morse, this Court considered claims 
in Samuel Morse’s patent directed to using 
electromagnetism to reproduce letters and words at 
remote distances. The Court ruled that claim 8 was 
unpatentable because the claim was not confined to 
any particular process or structure, or even to the 
content of the specification.6 However, the Court 
 
 
5  See KSR Int’l. Co. v. Teleflex, Inc., 550 U.S. 398, 127 S.Ct. 
1727 (2007). 
 
6 The Court found invalid only claim 8 (“the use of the 
motive power of the electric or galvanic current, which I call 
electromagnetism, however developed, for making or printing 
intelligible characters . 

. at any distances, being a new 
application of that power . . . ”). The Court discussed several 
bases for this, including that the specification was not 
commensurate with the scope of the claim, the claim was 
overbroad, that some implementations within the scope of claim 
(Continued on following page) 

10 
voiced no objection to Prof. Morse’s fifth claim (of the 
patent as reissued in 1848) directed generally to a 
type of code – such as the Morse code – set forth in 
the claim as follows: “Fifth. I claim, as my invention, 
the system of signs, consisting of dots and spaces, and 
of dots, spaces, and horizontal lines, for numerals, 
letters, words, or sentences, substantially as herein 
set forth and illustrated, for telegraphic purposes.” 56 
U.S. at 86. 
 
Under the current statute, 35 U.S.C. § 101, this 
fifth claim covering a “system of signs” (code) is not a 
“machine, manufacture, or composition of matter.” 
Nor is the fifth claim directed to a “new and useful 
improvement” of any machine, manufacture or 
composition of matter. In the language of the current 
statute, the only other patent-eligible subject matter 
is a “new and useful process.” As to that, the claim is 
not tied to a particular machine, although the claim 
notes that the code is used “for telegraphic purposes.” 
It does not transform matter. It is a set of symbols 
that a machine or human being might transmit or 
understand. It was used extensively for many decades 
in the business of communicating. It would fail a rigid 
application of the “machine-or-transformation” test.7 
 
8 may be inoperative, and that the claim was purely functional 
without connection to any structure. 
 
7 Morse’s sixth claim (1848 reissue), unlike the fifth, 
included specific reference to recording machinery: “Sixth. I also 
claim as my invention the system of signs, consisting of dots and 
spaces, and of dots, spaces, and horizontal lines, substantially as 
(Continued on following page) 

11 
 
No one could seriously challenge Prof. Morse’s 
fifth claim as a law of nature or that it wholly 
preempts an algorithm. Neither is a code based on 
dots and spaces an abstract idea. Nor is it a physical 
phenomenon. This fifth claim would be patent-eligible 
under this Court’s expansive application of Section 
101, but not under the Federal Circuit’s test imposed 
below. 
 
Human ingenuity has extended beyond codes to 
other methods that do not transform matter and are 
not specific to a machine. One fertile area of 
innovation concerns amusement and gaming, where 
thousands of patents have issued. One example is 
 
herein set forth and illustrated, in combination with machinery 
for recording them, as signals for telegraphic purposes.” 56 U.S. 
at 86.  
 
Without indicating whether it was discussing claim 5, 6, or 
some other claims, the Court included some general language 
about the invention at the end of the majority opinion: “Neither 
is the substitution of marks and signs, differing from those 
invented by Professor Morse, any defence to this action. His 
patent is not for the invention of a new alphabet; but for a 
combination of powers composed of tangible and intangible 
elements, described in his specification, by means of which 
marks or signs may be impressed upon paper at a distance, 
which can there be read and understood. And if any marks or 
signs or letters are impressed in that manner by means of a 
process substantially the same with his invention, or with any 
particular part of it covered by his patent, and those marks or 
signs can be read, and thus communicate intelligence, it is an 
infringement of his patent. The variation in the character of the 
marks would not protect it, if the marks could be read and 
understood.” Id. at 124.  

12 
U.S. Patent 5,685,774 for a method for playing card 
games.8 Another area of innovation concerns 
agriculture where, for example, U.S. Patent 6,338,040 
concerns a method for delaying development in a pest 
species of resistance to a pest control technique, using 
 
 
8 Claim 1 provides: “1. A method of playing a card game 
involving one or more persons acting as a dealer and a banker, 
and at least one player, the method comprising the steps of:  
 
(a)  determining whether to place a first bet that the 
player’s hand will be greater than a first predetermined rank, 
where a plurality of hands are ranked according to 
predetermined rules and the first bet is a fixed payout bet;  
 
(b)  determining whether to place a second bet that the 
player’s hand will beat the dealer;  
 
(c)  placing at least one of the first and second bets; 
 
(d)  the dealer dealing to each player and the dealer a hand 
consisting of three cards; 
 
(e)  the or each player who placed the second bet deciding, 
based on the player’s hand, either to forfeit the second bet to the 
banker or to place a third bet; 
 
(f )  the dealer determining whether the dealer’s hand 
exceeds a second predetermined rank, and if the dealer’s hand 
does not exceed the second predetermined rank, the bank paying 
each player an amount based on the second bet and returning 
the third bet to the player, or  
 
if the dealer’s hand exceeds the second predetermined rank, 
comparing the dealer’s hand in turn with that of each other 
player who placed the second bet and if the player’s hand is 
higher, the banker paying the player an amount based on both 
the second and third bets, and if the player’s hand is lower, the 
player forfeiting both the second and third bets to the banker; 
and  
 
(g)  the banker paying the fixed payout bet in accordance 
with a predetermined scale to any player who placed the first 
bet and whose hand exceeds the first predetermined rank.” 

13 
crop insurance to encourage correct uses of refuges.9 
No reason appears for excluding these and similar 
advances from the protections and advantages of the 
patent laws, as would result if the Federal Circuit’s 
new test were upheld. 
 
 
 
9 Claim 1 provides: “1. A method of encouraging and 
facilitating producers assisting in delaying the development in a 
pest species of resistance to a bio-genetic control technique 
directed against that species in the use of a primary asset 
employing that control technique, using refuges set out by 
individual ones of the producers, each of the refuges using a 
similar asset not employing that control technique and meeting 
conditions specified for management of the primary asset in 
regard to that pest species, the method comprising the steps of:  
 
entering into a policy of indemnity insurance with each of a 
plurality of producers on the yields of the similar asset in the 
refuges as against any damage to be caused by the pest species 
therein;  
 
facilitating the growing [of ] the primary asset in a first area 
and the similar asset in a second, refuge area, the first and 
second areas being laid out according to the conditions specified 
and the sizes and locations of such areas facilitating 
interbreeding of resistant and non-resistant members of the pest 
species;  
 
inspecting, measuring, and testing each of the refuge areas 
for compliance with the conditions specified, and, if the 
conditions are complied with, also inspecting and testing the 
refuge asset and then computing, accounting and paying to ones 
of said producers meeting the conditions at least part of any 
estimated damage caused by the pest species to the similar asset 
in compliant ones of the refuges,  
 
thereby avoiding economic disincentive to the producers 
against properly using refuges in management of the primary 
asset.” 

14 
II. 
The “We Do Not Hold” Precedents Mili-
tate Against a Rigid Rule 
 
The Federal Circuit majority’s decision in Bilski 
misapplies and contradicts this Court’s precedent. In 
considering the patentability of an algorithm to 
improve the efficiency of a digital computer in 
Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U.S. 63 (1972), this Court 
was asked to make “machine-or-transformation” the 
sole, universal rule of patent eligibility. This Court 
explicitly declined that invitation, stating:  
    It is argued that a process patent must 
either be tied to a particular machine or 
apparatus or must operate to change articles 
or materials to a “different state or thing.” 
We do not hold that no process patent could 
ever qualify if it did not meet the 
requirements of our prior precedents. 
409 U.S. at 71, 93 S.Ct. at 257. 
 
This Court announced expressly that while 
“machine-or-transformation” may be a consideration, 
it is not the only test for statutory subject matter: 
some other subject matter may be statutory even if it 
is not a “machine-or-transformation.” 
 
A few years later, this Court reiterated its caveat, 
stating, “As in Benson, we assume that a valid 
process patent may issue even if it does not meet one 
of these qualifications of our earlier precedents. 409 
U.S., at 71, 93 S.Ct., at 257.” Parker v. Flook, 437 
U.S. 584, 588 n. 9, 98 S.Ct. 2522, 2525 n. 9 (1978). 
The Flook opinion, 437 U.S. at 589, 98 S.Ct. at 2525, 

15 
reiterated the well-known exclusions recounted in 
Benson
    “ ‘A principle, in the abstract, is a 
fundamental truth; an original cause; a 
motive; these cannot be patented, as no one 
can claim in either of them an exclusive 
right.’  Le Roy v. Tatham, 14 How. 156, 175. 
Phenomena of nature, though just dis-
covered, mental processes, and abstract 
intellectual concepts are not patentable, as 
they are the basic tools of scientific and 
technological work.” 409 U.S., at 67, 93 S.Ct., 
at 255. 
The Court then cautioned that the line between what 
is a patentable “process” and an unpatentable 
“principle” is not always clear, 437 U.S. at 589, 98 
S.Ct. at 2525, and said that the proper analysis is to 
determine whether the “ . . . process itself, not merely 
the mathematical algorithm, [is] new and useful.” 437 
U.S. at 591, 98 S.Ct. at 2526. 
 
This “new and useful” approach is consistent 
with the express language of the statute as well as 
with dicta in Graham v. Deere, 383 U.S. 1, 86 S.Ct. 
684 (1966). In Graham, this Court mentioned 
“business” in discussing the Constitution’s enabling 
provision for patents; the Constitution limits the 
patent-granting power to, among others, “useful arts” 
and then only to inventions that promote progress in 
contradistinction to patents covering “business” as 

16 
were once granted by the British Crown.10 Certainly 
“new and useful” processes that “promote the 
Progress of the useful Arts” are not limited to those 
that may satisfy the Federal Circuit’s “machine-or-
transformation” test. 
  
 
 
 
10  “This qualified authority, unlike the power often exercised 
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by the English 
Crown, is limited to the promotion of advances in the ‘useful 
arts.’ It was written against the backdrop of the practices – 
eventually curtailed by the Statute of Monopolies – of the Crown 
in granting monopolies to court favorites in goods or businesses 
which had long before been enjoyed by the public. See 
Meinhardt,  Inventions, Patents and Monopoly, pp. 30-35 
(London, 1946). The Congress in the exercise of the patent power 
may not overreach the restraints imposed by the stated 
constitutional purpose. Nor may it enlarge the patent monopoly 
without regard to the innovation, advancement or social benefit 
gained thereby. Moreover, Congress may not authorize the 
issuance of patents whose effects are to remove existent 
knowledge from the public domain, or to restrict free access to 
materials already available. Innovation, advancement, and 
things which add to the sum of useful knowledge are inherent 
requisites in a patent system which by constitutional command 
must ‘promote the Progress of * * * useful Arts.’ This is the 
standard expressed in the Constitution and it may not be 
ignored. And it is in this light that patent validity ‘requires 
reference to a standard written into the Constitution.’ Great A. 
& P. Tea Co. v. Supermarket Equipment Corp.,  supra, 340 U.S. 
at 154, 71 S.Ct. at 131 (concurring opinion).” Graham v. John 
Deere Co., supra, 86 S.Ct. at 687-88. 

17 
III. Subsequent 
Precedents of This Court 
Also Militate Against a Rigid Rule 
 
The next patentable subject matter ruling by this 
Court concerned genetically-engineered microorgan-
isms,  Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303, 100 
S.Ct. 2204 (1980). The Court did not address a 
process but instead considered whether a living 
organism should be patent-eligible. The Court saw 
the issue as one of statutory construction and 
observed that the language chosen by Congress for 
identifying subject matter eligible for patenting 
“plainly contemplated that the patent laws would be 
given wide scope.” 447 U.S. at 308, 100 S.Ct. at 2207. 
It cited legislative history for the 1952 Patent Act as 
informing the Court that “anything under the sun 
that is made by man” is within Congress’ intent. 
However, the Court reiterated that Section 101 has 
limits: laws of nature, physical phenomena, and 
abstract ideas are not patentable. 447 U.S. at 309, 
100 S.Ct. at 2207. 
 Subsequently, 
in 
Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175, 
101 S.Ct. 1048 (1981), the Court again addressed the 
scope of patent-eligible subject matter, considering 
there a process for making synthetic rubber. The 
Court again saw the question as one of statutory 
construction, finding the process to be eligible subject 
matter. While the Diehr Court did note the statement 
in Benson concerning transformation and reduction of 
an article to a different state or thing as “ . . . the clue 
to the patentability of a process claim that does not 
include particular machines,” 450 U.S. at 184, 101 

18 
S.Ct at 1055, it said nothing to overrule the caveats 
in  Benson  itself and in Flook that other subject 
matter might also be patent-eligible.  
 
The Federal Circuit seems to have dismissed this 
Court’s caveats in Benson and Flook because the 
Court has not reiterated them in each subsequent 
decision. However, that a plain caveat is not restated 
is no clear indication that this Court has changed the 
law. If the intent of this Court were to retreat from its 
own express caveats, it would have said so plainly. 
Moreover, such caveats were not involved in the 
subsequent cases – one involved a question of living 
matter rather than a process, and the other was a 
machine process for making synthetic rubber. Neither 
of those cases involved exploring new territory in the 
patent-eligibility of processes. 
 
IV. 
Congress Has Shown How It Intends To 
Deal With Certain Classes of Invention, 
and Has Shown No Desire To Exclude 
Business Methods Generally 
 
Congress has chosen not to amend 35 U.S.C. 
§ 101 to exclude subject matter from patent-eligibility 
in those instances where patents have been granted 
that raised concerns. Instead, Congress has acted to 
maintain the broad scope of Section 101 while 
addressing its particular concerns specifically. When 
patents issue for specific classes of subject matter 
about which Congress has concerns, it does not 
amend 35 U.S.C. § 101 to exclude them. A clear 

19 
example of this concerns medical procedures. 
Inventions were being made, and patents issuing, for 
surgical or medical procedures. Congress decided not 
to remove the economic incentive for such inventions 
but simply amended another part of the patent 
statute so that even if a medical practitioner were 
infringing a patent, no remedy could be obtained 
against him or her.11 Any remedies would have to 
come from others, e.g., business corporations 
supplying components or accessories for the 
procedure. 
 
Similarly, when faced with concerns about the 
rise of business method patents and defenses to them, 
Congress enacted the First Inventor Defense Act of 
1999. Pub. L. No. 106-113, § 4302, 113 Stat. 1501A-
555, 555-57 (1999) (codified at 35 U.S.C. § 273). 
Congress did not amend Section 101 to remove 
business methods from the subject matter that is 
patent-eligible. Instead, it provided a personal 
defense to infringement of claims reciting a method of 
doing or conducting business. 35 U.S.C. § 
273. 
Congress has had several opportunities to legislate 
 
 
11  Section 616 of the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations 
Act of 1997, 104 P.L. 208, 110 Stat. 3009 amended the patent 
statute so that 35 U.S.C. Section 287(c)(1) now provides: “With 
respect to a medical practitioner’s performance of a medical 
activity that constitutes an infringement under section 271(a) or 
(b) of this title, the provisions of sections 281, 283, 284, and 285 
of this title shall not apply against the medical practitioner or 
against a related health care entity with respect to such medical 
activity.” 

20 
the patent-eligibility of business methods but has 
declined to do so. See, e.g., H.R. 5346, 106th Cong. (2d 
Sess. 2000); H.R. 1332, 107th Cong. (1st Sess. 2001); 
H.R. 5299, 108th Cong. (2d Sess. 2004). In none of 
these bills did Congress propose to amend Section 101 
in any respect.  
 
Congress’ actions are instructive. As this Court 
has counseled, where Congress has declined to place 
limitations on the patent laws, the courts should not 
impose them. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. at 308; Diehr
450 U.S. at 182, 101 S.Ct. at 1054. 
 
V. A 
Recommended 
Test  
 
IPLAC suggests that the most sensible test for 
subject matter eligibility, based on the Constitution, 
precedent, and the statute itself, is that a process is 
patent-eligible subject matter when it: 
• 
is not directed exclusively to  
○  a law of nature 
○  a physical phenomenon, or  
○  an abstract idea, and it  
• 
provides any useful result,12 for example 
if it does any of the following: 
 
 
12  Section 101 includes the phrase “new and useful.” IPLAC 
does not suggest that the novelty requirements of Section 102 
should be imported into Section 101. Rather, “new” is statutory 
language, and IPLAC does not seek to delete it from Section 101. 

21 
○  transforms an article to a different 
state or thing;13 or 
○  involves a machine.14 
 
The Court should interpret the patent statute to 
serve the purpose voiced by Thomas Jefferson and 
others, to give liberal encouragement to innovation.  
 
VI.  The Court Should Encourage Further 
Federal Circuit Development of This 
Jurisprudence 
 
IPLAC looks forward to Supreme Court guidance 
on what constitutes statutory subject matter. IPLAC 
submits that the Federal Circuit drew an incorrect 
conclusion from this Court’s precedents and erred 
when it discarded its own jurisprudence, thinking 
that this Court requires a “machine-or-transformation.” 
We urge the Court to clarify that it imposes no such 
rigid framework and to remand the case to the 
Federal Circuit for further development of applicable 
jurisprudence. 
 
Prior to its Bilski decision,  the Federal Circuit’s 
jurisprudence generally comported with this Court’s 
 
 
13 Various members of IPLAC also urge that the trans-
formation of electronic (or electromagnetic) signals should 
qualify a process as statutory subject matter. 
 
14 Both general and specific purpose computers are now 
ubiquitous machines. An invention that improves a machine 
ought to be statutory. The improvement could be to its efficiency, 
functionality, suitability, or otherwise. 

22 
holdings. For example, In re Alappat, 33 F.3d 1526 
(Fed. Cir. 1994) (en banc) involved an invention that 
made a smooth waveform in a digital oscilloscope test 
instrument (a machine) in presenting visual images 
of inputted electrical signals. The court had to 
determine whether the invention was statutory, and 
it applied a “useful, concrete, and tangible result” test 
consistent with this Court’s precedents: 
The plain and unambiguous meaning of 
§ 101 is that any new and useful process, 
machine, manufacture, or composition of 
matter, or any new and useful improvement 
thereof, may be patented if it meets the 
requirements for patentability set forth in 
Title 35, such as those found in §§ 102, 103, 
and 112. The use of the expansive term “any” 
in § 101 represents Congress’s intent not to 
place any restrictions on the subject matter 
for which a patent may be obtained beyond 
those specifically recited in § 101 and the 
other parts of Title 35. Indeed, the Supreme 
Court has acknowledged that Congress 
intended § 101 to extend to “anything under 
the sun that is made by man.” Diamond v. 
Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303, 309, 100 S.Ct. 
2204, 2208, 65 L.Ed.2d 144 (1980), quoting 
S.Rep. No. 1979, 82nd Cong., 2nd Sess., 5 
(1952); H.R.Rep. No. 1923, 82nd Cong., 2nd 
Sess., 6 (1952). Thus, it is improper to read 
into § 
101 limitations as to the subject 
matter that may be patented where the 
legislative history does not indicate that 
Congress clearly intended such limitations. 
See Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. at 308, 100 S.Ct. 

23 
at 2207 (“We have also cautioned that courts 
‘should not read into the patent laws 
limitations and conditions which the 
legislature has not expressed.’ ”), quoting 
United States v. Dubilier Condenser Corp., 
289 U.S. 178, 199, 53 S.Ct. 554, 561, 77 L.Ed. 
1114 (1933). 
Id. at 1542. Continuing as to the merits of the 
invention under consideration, the court explained, 
“This is not a disembodied mathematical concept 
which may be characterized as an ‘abstract idea,’ but 
rather a specific machine [used] to produce a useful, 
concrete, and tangible result.” Id. at 1544. 
 In 
State Street Bank & Trust Co. v. Signature 
Financial Group, Inc., 149 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1998), 
the Federal Circuit dealt with a business invention 
practiced with a computer and dealing with mutual 
funds. It declared:  
Today, we hold that the transformation of 
data, representing discrete dollar amounts, 
by a machine through a series of 
mathematical calculations into a final share 
price, constitutes a practical application of a 
mathematical algorithm, formula, or 
calculation, because it produces “a useful, 
concrete and tangible result” – a final share 
price momentarily fixed for recording and 
reporting purposes and even accepted and 
relied upon by regulatory authorities and in 
subsequent trades. 
Id. at 1373.  

24 
 
Thus, the Federal Circuit has now, in the case 
below, discarded its “useful, concrete, and tangible 
result” test. 
 
VII.  The Present Patent Application Claims  
 
IPLAC takes no position on the merits, and it 
recognizes that arguments fall on both sides as to 
whether Bilski’s specific claims define patent-eligible 
subject matter.15 On the one hand, the claims do 
appear to present a beneficial, useful process. Utility 
companies are enabled by this process to obtain raw 
materials at predictable costs. It is hard to deny the 
desirability and usefulness of fiscal improvements, 
particularly in today’s economy. In this case, assets of 
one type are transformed into another type (money is 
transformed into commodities at controllable or 
knowable rates). On the other hand, the result is 
chiefly economic in nature. 
 Whether 
subject 
matter 
passes muster under 
Section 101 is of course just the beginning of 
determining patentability. The claims must also meet 
the requirements of Sections 102, 103, and 112. Some 
may argue that Bilski’s invention of using hedging 
in this particular application fails under the non-
obviousness test of Section 103. However, because the 
 
 
15  Some members of IPLAC believe these specific claims are 
not eligible, and other members believe that no business 
methods ought to be eligible. Still other members believe that 
business methods should be patent-eligible.  

25 
Federal Circuit expressed no opinion on this point, it 
is most appropriate for this Court not to rule in the 
first instance but instead to remand the case for a 
determination of all remaining issues, including 
obviousness.  
----------------- ♦ ----------------- 
 
CONCLUSION 
 
This Court should remand the case to the 
Federal Circuit with instructions to consider the 
claims at issue under a revised articulation of the 
applicable law in which “machine-or-transformation” 
is not the only measure of whether process inventions 
are statutory subject matter. 
Respectfully submitted, 
EDWARD D. MANZO 
COOK ALEX LTD. 
200 W. Adams, Suite 2850 
Chicago, IL 60606 
312-236-8500 
Counsel of Record for Amicus Curiae, 
 The 
Intellectual 
Property 
Law Association of Chicago 
PATRICK G. BURNS 
President, THE INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW 
  ASSOCIATION OF CHICAGO 
P.O. Box 472 
Chicago, IL 60609 
312-987-1416 
 
 

26 
Of Counsel
DONALD W. RUPERT 
MARSHALL, GERSTEIN & BORUN LLP 
233 South Wacker Drive 
6300 Sears Tower 
Chicago, IL 60606 
312-474-6300 
Of Counsel
JOHN R. CROSSAN 
CROSSAN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW, LLC 
70 W. Madison St., Suite 5050 
Chicago, IL 60602 
312-602-1071 
August 2009 

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