No. 08-964
IN THE
Supreme Court of the United States
 
BERNARD L. BILSKI and RAND A. WARSAW,
Petitioners,
v.
JOHN 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 REGULATORY DATACORP, INC,
AMERICAN EXPRESS COMPANY, PALM INC.,
ROCKWELL AUTOMATION, INC., AND
SAP AMERICA, INC. AS AMICI CURIAE
IN SUPPORT OF NEITHER PARTY
JOHN A. SQUIRES
JOHN F. DUFFY
WALTER G. HANCHUK
Counsel of Record
CHARLES M. FISH
FRIED FRANK HARRIS SHRIVER
JOHN KHEIT
& JACOBSON LLP
CHADBOURNE & PARKE LLP
1001 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
30 Rockefeller Plaza
Washington, DC 20004
New York, NY 10112
(202) 639-7000
(212) 408-5100
Attorneys for Amici Curiae
224423
A
(800) 274-3321 • (800) 359-6859

i
Cited Authorities
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
Table of Cited Authorities  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
i
Interest of Amici Curiae  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1
Summary of Argument  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2
I.
The Original Meaning and History of the
Statutory Text Forecloses the Uncertain
and Unprecedented Gloss Imposed Below.
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4
1. The 1790 Patent Act.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5
2. The 1793 Patent Act.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
13
3. The 1952 Act.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14
II. The Federal Circuit, the Government and
the Government’s Amici Present No
Consistent and Coherent Rule for
Limiting the Reach of § 101.  . . . . . . . . . . .
18
1.
The Machine-or-Transformation
Test. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
19
2. Business Method Exception.  . . . . . . .
26
III. Precedent Does Not Foreclose Reliance
on the Text of § 101. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
34
IV. The Decision in this Court Should Be
Limited to the Questions Presented. . . . .
37
Conclusion  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
38

ii
T
Cited Authorities
ABLE OF CITED AUTHORITIES
Page
Cases:
AT&T Corp. v. Excel Communications, Inc.,
172 F.3d 1352 (Fed. Cir. 1999)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
26
Boulton v. Bull,
Carp. Pat. Rep. 117 (Ct. Com. Pl. 1795)  . . . . . . .
6
Busell Trimmer Co. v. Stevens,
137 U.S. 423 (1890)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
16
Caminetti v. United States,
242 U.S. 470 (1917)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
4
Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States,
143 U.S. 457 (1892)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4, 35, 36
Cochrane v. Deener,
94 U.S. 780 (1876)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19, 20
Dann v. Johnston,
425 U.S. 219 (1976)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
26
Diamond v. Chakrabarty,
447 U.S. 303 (1980)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . passim
Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175 (1981)  . . . . . . . .
15

iii
Cited Authorities
Page
Ex parte Dickerson,
(BPAI July 9, 2009)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
24
Ex parte Langemyr,
(BPAI May 28, 2008)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
23
Ex parte Snyder,
(BPAI May 12, 2009)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22-23
Ex parte Wasynczuk,
(BPAI June 2, 2008) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
25
Expanded Metal Co. v. Bradford,
214 U.S. 366 (1909)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
20
Gottschalk v. Benson,
409 U.S. 63 (1972)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3, 19, 20, 22
Graham v. John Deere Co.,
383 U.S. 1 (1966)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
27
In re Alappat,
33 F.3d 1526 (Fed. Cir. 1994)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
26
In re Comiskey,
499 F.3d 1365 (Fed. Cir. 2007)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
27
In re Seaborg,
328 F.2d 996 (CCPA 1964)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14

iv
Cited Authorities
Page
J.E.M Ag Supply v. Pioneer Hi-Bred Int’l,
534 U.S. 124 (2001)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2, 17
KSR International Co. v. TeleflexInc.,
530 U.S. 398 (2007)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
27
Merrill v. Yeomans,
94 U.S. 568 (1876)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6, 18
O’Reilly v. Morse,
56 U.S. 62 (1853)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20, 21
Parker v. Flook,
437 U.S. 584 (1978)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
34
Public Citizen v. U.S. Department of Justice,
491 U.S. 440 (1989)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
35
Roberts v. Ryer,
91 U.S. 150 (1875)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
16
S. D. Warren Co. v. Maine Bd.
of Environmental Protection,
547 U. S. 370 (2006)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
14
St. Francis College v. Al-Khazraji,
481 U.S. 604 (1987)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6
State Street Bank & Trust Co.
v. Signature Financial Group,  Inc.
149 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1998)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
33

v
Cited Authorities
Page
Tilghman v. Proctor,
102 U.S. 707 (1880)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
20
TRW Inc. v. Andrews,
534 U.S. 19 (2001)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9
Wachovia Bank v. Schmidt,
546 U.S. 303 (2006)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8
Washing-Machine Co. v. Tool Co.,
87 U.S. 342 (1874)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
16
Zuni Public School Dist. No. 89
vDepartment of Education,
550 U.S. 81 (2007)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
35
United States Constitution:
Article I, sec. 8, cl. 8  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8
Statutes:
35 U.S.C. § 101  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . passim
35 U.S.C. § 100(b)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . passim
35 U.S.C. § 112  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32, 35
35 U.S.C. §§ 181-188  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
36
35 U.S.C. § 273  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
37

vi
Cited Authorities
Page
35 U.S.C. § 287(c)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
36
42  U.S.C.  § 1981  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6
Statute of Monopolies, 21 Jac. 1, c. 3 § 6  . . . . . .
5
Other:
Act of April 10, 1790, 1 Stat. 109  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5
Guido Calabresi, A Common Law for the Age of
Statutes (1982)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
19
Cornell’s Financial Engineering Concentration
in its School of Operations Research and
Information Engineering (http://www.orie.
cornell.edu/orie/academics/meng/program
description/options/fineng.cfm) . . . . . . . . . . . .
31
Tench Coxe, An Address to an Assembly of the
Friends of American Manufactures, in
Calling for More Domestic Manufacturing
(1787) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
10
Tench Coxe, A Statement of the Arts and
Manufactures of the United States (1814)  . . . . 10, 11
John F. Duffy, The Death of Google’s Patents?
(available at http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/
law/google patents101.pdf)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
24

vii
Cited Authorities
Page
Tony Dutra, Chief Judge Michel Says
Commentary Reading Too Much Into Bilski
Opinion, 78 Pat. Trademark & Copyright J.
(BNA) 373 (July 24, 2009)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
25
Giorgio Israel, How Economics Became a
Mathematical Science, 114 Econ. J. F369
(2004) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
30
Thomas Jefferson to Isaac McPherson (August
13, 1813)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
16
Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English
Language (6th ed. 1785) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5, 7, 34
W. Kenrick, An Address to the Artists and
Manufacturers of Great Britain (1774)  . . . . .
12
Manual of Patent Examining Procedures (6th ed.
Jan. 1995) (available  at  http://www.uspto.gov/
web/offices/pac/mpep/old/E6R0_700.pdf)  . . . .
33
MIT’s Laboratory for Financial Engineering
(http://lfe.mit.edu/about/intro.htm)  . . . . . . . . .
31
Samuel P. Newman, A Practical System of
Rhetoric  (1827)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12
Nine Staff Named New Fellows of the Royal
Society, http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/news/dp/
2004060102 (June 2, 2004)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
30

viii
Cited Authorities
Page
Nomination and Selection of the Laureates in
Economics, http://nobelprize.org/nomination/
economics/process.html  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
30
Princeton’s Operations Research & Financial
Engineering Department in the university’s
School of Engineering and Applied Science
(http://orfe.princeton.edu/)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
31
PTO Classification 273 for Amusement Devices:
Games (available at http://www.uspto.gov/web/
patents/classification/uspc273/sched273.htm)
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
29
H.R.Rep. No.1923, 82d Cong., 2d Sess., 6 (1952)
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
18
S. Rep. No.1979, 82d Cong., 2d Sess., 5 (1952)
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
18
Walter F. Rogers, The Law of Patents (1914)  . . .
27
Herbert A. Simon, Theories of Decision-Making
in Economics and Behavioral Science,
49 Am. Econ. Rev. 253 (1959) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
31
David Spadafora, The Idea of Progress in
Eighteenth-Century Britain (1990)  . . . . . . . . 12, 13

ix
Cited Authorities
Page
The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic
Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, http://
nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics . . . . . .
30
Robert James Turnbull, The Crisis or Essays
on the Usurpations of the Federal Government
(1827) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12
U.S. Pat. No.. 831,061 (1906)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
22
U.S. Pat. No. 429,841 (1890) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
22
U.S. Pat. No. 198,507 (1877) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
22
U.S. Pat. No. 7,426,488 (2008)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
24
USPTO White Paper, Automated Financial or
Management Data Processing Methods
(Business Methods) iv (available  at  http://
www.uspto.gov/web/menu/busmethp/white
paper.pdf)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
33
Thomas Webster, On the Subject-Matter of
Letters Patent for Inventions (1841)  . . . . . . . .
6
Webster’s New International Dictionary,
Second Edition  (1948)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11, 15
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary
(1963) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7, 28, 29

x
Cited Authorities
Page
Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary
(10th ed. 2001) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
28
Winston Williams, The Big Board Battle to
Contain the Damage, N.Y. Times, Oct. 25, 1987
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
31

1
INTEREST OF AMICI CURIAE
The Amici Curiae1 are technology companies that
provide innovative products and services to other
companies and consumers. While the Amici come from
diverse industry segments, all devote considerable
resources to innovation. The Amici believe that a
properly functioning patent system encourages greater
investments in innovation and thereby advances the
progress of the useful arts.
Collectively, Amici own numerous patents and
are also, at times, defendants in patent infringement
actions. Amici seek a balanced patent system in which
patents are generally available on useful products and
processes but are limited to true inventions that meet
requirements set forth in the statute. Amici believe that
balance can best be achieved by faithfully adhering the
statutory directions and eschewing uncertain and
shifting glosses that unduly narrow or expand patent
protection.
Amicus Regulatory DataCorp, Inc. (RDC) provides
the world’s largest database of open-source, risk-
relevant records and data services that assist financial
and other firms in satisfying their due diligence
requirements to detect and thwart money laundering,
corruption, terrorist financing, and other abusive
1. No counsel for a party authored this brief in whole or in
part, and no such counsel or party made a monetary contribution
intended to fund the preparation or submission of this brief.
No person other than amici curiae, their members, or their
counsel made a monetary contribution to its preparation or
submission.

2
activities. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
permitted RDC to present amicus arguments during the
oral argument below.
Amicus American Express Company is a leading
global travel and financial services company.
Amicus Palm Inc. provides mobile technology to
enable people to better manage their lives on the go.
Amicus Rockwell Automation, Inc. provides control,
power, information and software solutions that help solve
manufacturing problems and enable real-time
information exchange.
Amicus SAP America, Inc. is a leading technology
company focused on developing innovative software
and computer-based business solutions. The Amicus
conducts significant research and development
and invests heavily in commercializing innovative
technologies.
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
This is a straightforward case of statutory
interpretation to be resolved using the ordinary
meaning of the language Congress placed in sections
101 and 100(b) of the Patent Act. As this Court has
observed, that language is not merely broad but
“extremely broad,” and its breadth demonstrates that
“‘Congress plainly contemplated that the patent laws
would be given wide scope.’” J.E.M Ag Supply v. Pioneer
Hi-Bred Int’l, 534 U.S. 124, 130 (2001) (quoting
Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303, 308 (1980)). The

3
government is now asking this Court to impose a
formalistic restriction on definition of “process” that
would create an unprecedented and uncertain judicial
limitation on patentable subject matter. This Court
should reject that invitation just as it did more than a
third of a century ago, when the government
unsuccessfully advanced the very same argument.
See Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U.S. 63, 71 (1972).
Accepting the government’s argument would
require rejection of core principles of statutory
interpretation for the government’s position finds no
basis in the text or history of the statute. The statutory
language chosen by Congress started out extremely
broad, and in ensuing re-enactments Congress has taken
action that not only underscores the breadth of the
provision, but also in one important respect overturns
prior judicial precedents imposing a narrowing
construction on the language.
The government’s position here—even if it were
viewed as a proposal for common-law making without
regard to the limitations of statutory interpretation—
would remain unattractive. The proposed rule lacks
even a rudimentary degree of certainty, is difficult or
impossible to reconcile with previously issued patents
and prior holdings of this Court, and is only one of many
competing proposals for limiting the statutory language.
Moreover, the machine-or-transformation test is
unnecessary because other conventional patent law
doctrines, which are well grounded in the statute, are
fully capable of addressing any legitimate concerns
about patents that are vague, abstract, obvious, or
otherwise not useful.

4
The statutory language here is so clear that this case
can be usefully compared to the controversial case of
Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States, 143 U.S.
457 (1892). Adoption of the government’s position would
require this Court to go beyond—indeed, well beyond—
Church of the Holy Trinity in endorsing an atextual
approach to statutory interpretation.
I. The Original Meaning and History of the
Statutory Text Forecloses the Uncertain and
Unprecedented Gloss Imposed Below.
The exact statutory language in §§ 101 and 100(b)
can be traced back more than two centuries to the
earliest Patent Acts. This historical background
confirms not only that Congress has consistently chosen
broad language to accomplish its goals but that, to
remove any potential ambiguities, Congress has
repeatedly  expanded the scope of the language. The
Federal Circuit’s acceptance of the government’s
narrowing construction violates multiple rules of
statutory construction, including the “elementary” rule
that the meaning of a statute must, in the first
instance, be sought in the language in which
the act is framed, and if that is plain, and if
the law is within the constitutional authority
of the law-making body which passed it, the
sole function of the courts is to enforce it
according to its terms.
Caminetti v. United States, 242 U.S. 470, 485 (1917).

5
1. The 1790 Patent Act.
The first U.S. Patent Act in 1790 defined as
patentable subject matter “any useful art, manufacture,
engine, machine, or device, or any improvement
therein.” Act of April 10, 1790, 1 Stat. 109, 110. The first
two categories—“useful art” and “manufacture”—
remain in the modern statute, and their plain meanings
and history provide the best indications of congressional
intent.
“[M]anufacture” was already an important word in
Anglo-American patent law, for the British Statute of
Monopolies from 1623 used that word—and that word
only—to describe patentable subject matter under
English law. See Statute of Monopolies, 21 Jac. 1, c. 3
§ 6 (allowing patents on “any manner of new
Manufactures within this Realme”). “Manufacture” itself
could cover the field of patentable subject matter
because, at the time, the noun referred both  to the
process of making and  to the things made. This dual
meaning of “manufacture” was clear in, for example, the
Johnson Dictionary, which lists two definitions of
“manufacture” in its noun form:
1. The practice of making any piece of
workmanship.
2. Any thing made by art.
2 Samuel Johnson, A Dictionary of the English
Language n90 (6th ed. 1785) (pagination from electronic

6
version at http://www.archive.org/stream/dictionary
ofengl02johnuoft#page/n90/mode/1up).2
Because of the broad definition of “manufacture,”
the English patent system routinely issued process
patents. Indeed, Chief Justice Eyre estimated in 1795
that “two-thirds, I believe I might say, three-fourths of
all patents granted since the statute [of Monopolies]
passed, are for methods of operating and of
manufacturing, producing no new substances and
employing no new machinery.” Boulton v. Bull, Carp.
Pat. Rep. 117, 149 (Ct. Com. Pl. 1795) (Eyre, C.J.).
The meaning of “manufacture” was long a well
known part of patent practice on both sides of the
Atlantic. Thus, Thomas Webster—one of most
prominent early English patent commentators—
instructed that “any change in the series of processes
pursued will constitute a new manufacture” within the
meaning of the Statute of Monopolies. See Thomas
Webster,  On the Subject-Matter of Letters Patent for
Inventions 9 (1841). Similarly, this Court in Merrill v.
Yeomans, 94 U.S. 568, 570-71 & 572 (1876), held that
“manufacture” in a patent could be “used with equal
propriety to express the process of making an article,
2. The appropriate set of dictionaries to use are those
written at approximately the time when the language became
law, even if the language has been later re-codified or re-
enacted without material change. See  St. Francis College v.
Al-Khazraji, 481 U.S. 604, 610-12 (1987) (interpreting 42 U.S.C.
§ 1981 using dictionaries published “when § 1981 became law
in the 19th century”).

7
or the article so made,” and that, in that case, it was actually
“used in the sense of the word ‘process.’”3
Moreover, not only could “manufacture” cover both
processes and products, but its contemporaneous meaning
allowed it to do so broadly. Thus, the Johnson dictionary
includes immensely broad definitions of words used to
define each of the meanings of “manufacture.” Thus,
“workmanship” was defined to include:
1. Manufacture; something made by any one.
2. The skill of a worker; . . . .
3. The art of working.
Johnson Dictionary at n1081 (usage examples omitted)
(http://www.archive.org/stream/dictionaryofengl02johnuoft
#page/n1081/mode/1up). So too, “art” was defined in
sweeping terms to mean:
1. The power of doing something not taught by
nature and instinct . . . .
2. A science; as, the liberal arts.
3. A trade.
Id. at n182 (available at http://www.archive.org/stream/
dictionaryofengl01johnuoft#page/n182/mode/1up).
3. The dual meaning of “manufacture” remains in modern
usage, though the process of making is one of the secondary
meanings.  See, e.g., Webster’s Third New International
Dictionary 1378 (1963).

8
Despite the dual, sweeping and comprehensive
meanings attached to the word “manufacture” in both
contemporaneous language and patent practice, the first
Congress was unwilling to let the definition of patentable
subject matter rest solely on one word. Instead, it began
this country’s definition of patentable subject with the
phrase “any useful art”—the phrase that defines the
limits of congressional power under the Patent Clause
of Article I, sec. 8, cl. 8 of the Constitution. Given the
already broad meaning of “manufacture,” the addition
of the constitutional language provides a fairly clear
indication that Congress was not, to put it mildly,
searching about for narrow words that would exclude
new and useful innovations from the scope of the patent
system.
The first Congress’s decision to combine
“manufacture” with “any useful art” also refutes the
argument, relied on by the Government below, that the
word “process” in the modern statute (which, pursuant
to § 100(b), still encompasses any “art”) should be given
a narrowing construction by interpreting it “in pari
materia with the other three categories of inventions”
in the modern statute. PTO Supp. Br. 9 (filed Mar. 6,
2008). There are two problems with the Government’s
argument. First, the in pari materia canon applies in
interpreting two different statutes—the canon holds
that “statutes addressing the same subject matter
generally should be read as if they were one law.”
Wachovia Bank v. Schmidt, 546 U. S. 303, 315-16 (2006)
(internal quotations omitted). It is simply not at issue
here whether the list of patentable subject matter
categories in § 101 should be read as if they were part
of one law.

9
Second, rather than in pari materia, the
appropriate canon to apply here is the “cardinal principle
. . . that a statute ought, upon the whole, to be so
construed that, if it can be prevented, no clause,
sentence, or word shall be superfluous, void, or
insignificant.”  TRW Inc. v. Andrews, 534 U.S. 19, 31
(2001) (internal quotations omitted). If the statutory
words “art” and “process” are limited to any process
that “is tied to a particular machine” or “transforms a
particular article into a different state or thing,”
Pet. App. 12a, Congress’s inclusion of the word “art” in
1790 (and later “process”) would have been superfluous
because the broad contemporaneous meaning of
“manufacture” already covered at least that much.
Under a correct interpretation, however, the addition
of “any useful art” did have meaning because, to the
extent any ambiguity remained in “manufacture,” the
addition phrase clarified the breadth of the language
and of Congress’s intention.
Finally, the government below also argued that the
phrase “useful art” (as it exists in the Constitution and
as copied into the early Patent Act) should be
interpreted narrowly because “usages of the term ‘useful
arts’ contemporaneous with the framing of the
Constitution uniformly tie ‘useful arts’ to manufactures
and manufacturing processes, thereby providing strong
support for the notion that ‘process’ must be
interpreted in parity with the other statutory
categories.” PTO Supp. Br. at 10-11. The government
is wrong on the history.
It is of course true that manufactures of all types
were considered “useful arts,” and thus individuals

10
interested in encouraging domestic manufacturing—
such as the early industrial advocate and assistant
Secretary of Commerce Tench Coxe—could quite
correctly describe “progress in the useful arts as having
produced improvements in numerous kinds of
manufactures, from ships to whips to watches.”
Id. at 11 n.4 (paraphrasing Tench Coxe, An Address to
an Assembly of the Friends of American Manufactures,
in Calling for More Domestic Manufacturing 18
(1787)). It is a logical error to assume that, because all
manufacturing arts are useful arts, all useful arts must
be manufacturing arts.
None of the historical sources produced by the
government below constrain the useful arts solely to the
processes or arts of manufacturing (narrowly
construed), and certainly none limits “useful arts” to
those arts that are “tied to a particular machine” or that
“transform[] a particular article into a different state
or thing.” Quite the contrary. For example, in another
work, Tench Coxe himself listed the “[m]any curious and
valuable inventions and improvements” responsible for
the “very rapid progress, and a much wider diffusion in
the useful arts and trades” occurring in the young
nation. Tench Coxe, A Statement of the Arts and
Manufactures of the United States l (1814). Coxe
included improvements in the management techniques
and services used by manufacturers and other
producers such as “the division of labor in the cultivation
of the cane,” “the extension and facilitation of
communication,” and “the extension of the funds of the
manufacturers by many of the banks, which are solidly
founded and rigidly constituted and administered.”
Id.  Coxe listed these management and service

11
improvements indiscriminately with such improvements
as “the machine for spliting skins” and “the conversion
of fossil coal into a pigment.” Id.
Coxe considered all of those improvements to fall
under the category “Instruments and Agents of
Manufactures” (id. at xlix), and this points to another
flaw in the government’s argument. Even if the word
“manufacture” in the statute were to be given a very
narrow interpretation to include only the production of
goods from raw  materials—a meaning that excludes
mining, agriculture, shipping, communications and the
service industries4—still the concept of “useful arts” was
used in a much broader sense to include at least all the
arts that were useful in supporting and fostering
manufacturing. Modern society’s greater specializations
of function and divisions of labor should not obscure the
4. This more narrow meaning does not appear in the 1785
Johnson Dictionary and it was clearly not the meaning imparted
by English judges interpreting the Statute of Monopolies. Yet
it is clear that Coxe was imparting a very narrow meaning to
“manufactures” because he was encouraging the United States
to produce finished goods such as “candles, hats, boots, . . . and
various other manufactures,” and discouraging concentration
on the production of “raw productions,” such as “copper, crude
sugar” or “other articles of unmanufactured produce.” Coxe,
supra, at xxi. That more narrow meaning of “manufacture” may
have been emerging as a connotation, and by the twentieth
century it had become one denotation of the word. See
Webster’s New International Dictionary, Second Edition, 1499
(1948) (giving as the third definition of manufacture “[a]nything
made from raw materials by the hand, by machinery, or by art,
. . .”) (emphasis added). Still, the breadth of the word’s
traditional meaning—”the making of anything by any agency
or process,” id. (fourth definition)—endures.

12
truth that was evident to Tench Coxe two centuries ago:
Even an industry fitting the narrowest meaning of
manufacturing, like the modern automobile industry, is
dependent upon good communications, information
processing, management techniques, banking practices
and the service industries generally.
Finally, as even the government’s sources
demonstrate, the field of “useful arts” was traditionally
defined not by the distinction between manufacturing
and non-manufacturing, but by the distinction between
the “polite” and “useful” arts. PTO Supp. Br. at 11 n.4
(citing W. Kenrick, An Address to the Artists and
Manufacturers of Great Britain (1774)). That
traditional distinction was typically explained as being
between arts “designed to please” and arts that “aim to
supply human wants.” Samuel P. Newman, A Practical
System of Rhetoric 53 (1827). As one early American
writer phrased it:
What are the useful arts? They are those arts
or occupations, which are carried on, with a
view to profit in contradistinction to such as
are pu[r]sued for pleasure, which are often
called liberal or polite arts.
Robert James Turnbull, The Crisis or Essays on the
Usurpations of the Federal Government 55 (1827). See
also David Spadafora, The Idea of Progress in
Eighteenth-Century Britain 33 (1990) (concluding that
“the polite arts were considered to have pleasure for
their goal”). Historical sources quite clearly classified
early information-generating arts such as navigation
solidly within the useful arts, even though those fields

13
could also be accurately described as falling within the
liberal arts. See id. Moreover, the distinction between
polite and useful arts is not difficult to apply in fields
relevant to this case: Communications, business, finance,
management and information processing are designed
to satisfy real world human wants; they are not part of
the polite arts.
2. The 1793 Patent Act.
In 1793, Congress modified the definition of
patentable subject matter to be “any new and useful
art, machine, manufacture or composition of matter, or
any new and useful improvement [thereof].” 1 Stat. 318,
319. Congress thus (i) retained, without change, the
broadest words and phrases in the list—”useful art” and
“manufacture”; (ii) removed from the list the two of the
more narrow words in the list “engine” and “device”;
and (iii) added the phrase “composition of matter.”
Given the breadth of “useful art” and
“manufacture,” the wording changes in 1793 do not
indicate any change in substantive policy, but the
importance of these changes can be understood in light
the implications for the canons of statutory construction
ejusdem generis and noscitur a sociis.
Under the ejusdem generis canon, broad words
following a list of more specific items may be limited to
cover only things similar to the more specific. Both the
1790 and 1793 Acts listed the broadest and most general
category (“useful art”) first  so the statutes were not
classical cases for ejusdem generis. Nevertheless,
Congress’s action in 1793—repeal of two more narrow

14
words and addition of a new broad term5—tends to
confirm that Congress did not inadvertently include
broader language while trying to limit the scope to a
more specific category.
Similarly, the canon noscitur a sociis generally holds
that statutory words may be interpreted in light of
associated word elsewhere in the statute. This canon
does not mean that “pairing a broad statutory term with
a narrow one shrinks the broad one” for “giving one
example does not convert express inclusion into
restrictive equation.” S. D. Warren Co. v. Maine Bd. of
Environmental Protection, 547 U. S. 370, 379 (2006).
Moreover, “noscitur a sociis is no help absent some sort
of gathering with a common feature to extrapolate.”
Id. at 379-80. Here again, Congress’s revision of the
statute in 1793 pushed the statutory language away
from the narrow and toward the more general so that
the most prominent common feature is the breadth of
the four categories, coupled with the associated word
“any.”
3. The 1952 Act.
Congress made three changes to statutory subject
matter in 1952:
First, Congress substituted the word “process” for
“art” in § 101. Congress, however, retained the word
5. “Composition of matter” is broader than “engine” or
“device” because devices and engines would literally fit within
the new category, but some compositions of matter—e.g., a
bacterium (see,  Diamond v.  Chakrabarty,  supra), or a new
element (see In re Seaborg, 328 F.2d 996 (CCPA 1964)—would
probably not be considered an “engine” or a “device.”

15
“art” as part of the express statutory definition of “process”
given in § 100(b). Thus, as this Court noted in Diamond
v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175, 184 (1981), “[a]nalysis of the
eligibility of a claim of patent protection for a ‘process’
did not change with the addition of that term to § 101.”
A “process” had previously been “considered a form of ‘art’
as that term was used in the 1793 Act,” id. at 182, and any
such type of “art” remained patentable under the express
definition of § 100(b).
Second, Congress also added an express definition of
“process,” which included the words “process” and
“method” in addition to the word “art.” The meaning of
process at the time was:
1. Act of proceeding; . . . procedure; . . . .
2. A course of procedure; something that occurs
in a series of actions or events.
Webster’s Second,  supra  note 4, at 1972. And “method”
meant:
1. An orderly procedure or process, as, orig., of
treating disease; regular way or manner of
doing anything; hence, a set form of procedure
adopted in investigation or instruction; as, a
method of improving the mind.
Id. at 1548. In short, Congress expressly considered what
definition should be given to the new statutory term
“process” and used words with ordinary meanings that
were consistently broad. If Congress wanted the judiciary
to impose a limiting gloss on “process,” it gave remarkably
little guidance as to the possible content of that gloss.

16
Third, Congress overturned prior judicial decisions
holding that discoveries of new uses for old machines or
processes were not patentable subject matter. See, e.g.,
Roberts v. Ryer, 91 U.S. 150, 157 (1875) (“It is no new
invention to use an old machine for a new purpose.”).
The intuition behind that doctrine dated back at least
to Thomas Jefferson, who believed “that a machine of
which we were possessed, might be applied by every
man to any use of which it is susceptible, and that this
right ought not to be taken from him and given to a
monopolist, because the first perhaps had occasion so
to apply it.” 6 The doctrine had been applied by this
Court with varying degrees of stringency,7 and it had
caused much uncertainty. In § 100(b), Congress
abolished it by providing that “a new use of a known
process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter,
or material” must be considered a potentially patentable
“process” within the meaning of the Patent Act.
The express inclusion of “new uses” within the
definition of patentable subject matter is important
6. Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Isaac McPherson
(August 13, 1813) (available at http://etext.virginia.edu/etcbin/
toccer-new2?id=JefLett.sgm&images=images/modeng&
data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=
218&division=div1) (emphasis added).
7. For the varying application of the doctrine, compare
Roberts v. Ryersupra, with Washing-Machine Co. v. Tool Co.,
87 U.S. 342, 351 (1874) (holding that, at least in circumstances
where there was not “any novel and useful result,” a “new
application” was an unpatentable “case of double use”); and
Busell Trimmer Co. v. Stevens, 137 U.S. 423, 434 (1890) (holding
that a new use was patentable at least where the newly
discovered use was “an entirely new use”).

17
because it provides a clear textual basis for an important
class of modern inventions. Even 18th and 19th century
machines were sometimes (in the words of Jefferson)
“susceptible” to different uses, and an inventive “new
use” conveyed to the world nothing more than new
instructions concerning how to use the existing physical
machine. That circumstance has become ubiquitous in
an era where modern general-purpose computers are
designed to be “susceptible” to many new uses. A new
computer program—e.g., a program that manages
complex financial transactions or detects financial
risks—provides a new way of using an existing machine
and thus fits comfortably within the express definition
of “process” included in the statute by Congress.
The text of § 100(b) therefore provides an explicit
basis for an important point on which we agree with the
government’s position in this case: A “machine-based
process”—including new uses of existing machines—
generally falls within patentable subject matter as
defined by Congress. PTO Supp. Br. at 26. We also agree
with the government that, under the statute as drafted
by Congress, “there is no such thing as a categorical
business method exception to the patent system”
and that technological innovations should not “go
unprotected simply because they operate in a
commercial environment.” Id. at 32.
Because Congress clearly expressed its intent
through the “extremely broad” statutory language of
the 1790, 1793 and 1952 statutes, J.E.M. Ag Supply,
534 U.S. at 130, resort to the legislative history is
unnecessary. However, if the legislative history were to
be consulted, it would reveal that Congress was fully

18
aware that the language was expansive. Indeed, both
House and Senate committees specifically indicated
their sweeping understanding of the word “manufacture,
which may include anything under the sun that is made
by man.” H.R.Rep. No.1923, 82d Cong., 2d Sess., 6
(1952); S. Rep. No.1979, 82d Cong., 2d Sess., 5 (1952);
see  also  Chakrabarty, 450 U.S. at 182 (quoting these
reports). These reports are a good indication that
Congress was fully aware that the traditional meaning
of “manufacture” in patent law could cover either a
product or process (as this Court held in Merrill v.
Yeomans,  supra), and that Congress intended such a
literal interpretation of the language.
In sum, Congress has repeatedly selected words
with broad ordinary meanings in defining patentable
subject matter; has added additional broad words to
reinforce the pre-existing words in the statute; has
eliminated some narrower words previously in the
statute (though words such as “engine” and “device”
can be considered narrow only in comparison to the more
sweeping words in the statute); and has even overruled
part of the narrowing judicial gloss that was once put
on the statute.
II. The Federal Circuit, the Government and the
Government’s Amici Present No Consistent and
Coherent Rule for Limiting the Reach of § 101.
The language of § 101 is not vague or uncertain; it
is just broad, which is what Congress intended. Even if
this Court were predisposed to adding a judicial gloss
to that language in common-law fashion (see Guido
Calabresi,  A Common Law for the Age of Statutes

19
(1982)), the glosses being proposed in this case are
strikingly unattractive. One immediate problem is that
the court below, the government and the various amici
have been unable to agree on a single theory to justify
and to govern the judicial gloss that is to be imposed on
the statute. That lack of agreement provides a good
indication whether a clear path will appear once the text
of the statute is abandoned. There are other problems
too. We focus here on the problems associated with
merely two of the potential candidates to be the judicial
gloss on the statute.
1. The Machine-or-Transformation Test.
Even if it were considered purely from the
standpoint of common-law making, the specific test
endorsed by the Federal Circuit—that any patentable
process must be either tied to a particular machine or
transform a particular article into a different state or
thing—has numerous problems.
First, more than a third of a century ago, the
government advocated the precise restriction it is
advocating again here in this case. See Reply Br. for
Petitioner at 7-8, in Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U.S. 63
(1972) (No. 71-485). The government relied on the same
dicta being cited in this litigation, id. at 7 (citing
Cochrane v. Deener, 94 U.S. 780, 788 (1876)), and argued
that patentable processes either (i) had to involve
“physical substances on which physical acts are
performed,” or (ii) had to include “machinery or
apparatus limitations” for the processes involving “the
manipulation and transmission of intangible entities—
such as electrical energy for telecommunications . . .

20
or information or data processing.” Id. at 8. The Benson
Court declined to limit patentable subject matter with
that sort of formalistic rule.
Second, after the dicta in Cochrane v. Deener was
written, this Court defined process in Tilghman v.
Proctor, 102 U.S. 707, 728 (1880), to be “an act, or a mode
of acting”—”a conception of the mind, seen only by
its effects when being executed or performed.” If
Congress were looking to Supreme Court dicta for a
comprehensive definition of “process,” there is no reason
to think that it looked to the earlier Cochrane “definition”
rather than the later Tilghman “definition.” Indeed, this
Court’s later opinion in Expanded Metal Co. v. Bradford,
214 U.S. 366 (1909), quoted both  Cochrane  and
Tilghman, emphasized the breadth of patentable
processes, and praised the Tilghman formulation as a
“clear and succinct statement of the rule” governing
process. Id. at 384.
Third, even at the time of Benson, the “machine-or-
transformation” test could not account for all the cases
decided by this Court. In O’Reilly v. Morse, 56 U.S. 62
(1853), Samuel Morse’s fifth claim specifically covered
Morse Code, i.e., Morse’s “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.” Id. at 86. The examiner from the
Patent Office construed the claim to mean:
The patent of said Morse also secures to him
the right to use a system of alphabetical signs,
consisting of dots and spaces, and dots,

21
spaces, and horizontal lines. Upon careful
investigation it did not appear that these signs
had ever before been used as an alphabet of
language, and the patent was accordingly
granted.
S.Ct. Record in O’Reilly v. Morse, at 128. The breadth
of Morse’s fifth claim is made clear by a comparison with
his sixth claim, which was limited to uses of the code “in
combination with machinery for recording” the coded
signals. Yet even though the accused infringer argued
that such a code could not be “the subject of a patent,”
id. at 35, see also 56 U.S. at 101 (noting arguments by
counsel on the patentability of claim 5), the Court
sustained the claim, stating that it “perceive[s] no well-
founded objection . . . to [Morse’s] right to a patent
for the first seven inventions set forth in the specification
of his claims.” Id. at 112.8
Morse’s patent claim on his code was similar to any
number of traditional patents issued on coding and
notational methods that plainly fail the government’s
8. In discussing claim 3 of Morse’s basic patent and his
second patent on an improvement, the Court noted that the
accused infringer could not escape infringement because
Morse’s “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.” 56 U.S. at
124. The Court, however, also passed upon the validity of all the
claims in the Morse patent—including claim 5—because, at the
time, the whole of the patent could be void if the inventor
claimed more than he was entitled to. See id. at 121.

22
new machine-or-transformation test. See, e.g., U.S. Pat.
Nos. 831,061 (1906) (cipher coding system), 429,841
(1890) (musical notation), 198,507 (1877) (phonetic
notation method). Those patents also show why
patentable methods need not be limited by the machine-
or-transformation test. While the government in its
briefing below did not articulate any policy rationale for
its proposed judicial gloss, the government’s briefs in
Benson at least attempted to do so. The government
argued that, without machine-or-transformation
limitations, “the scope of the claimed monopoly cannot
be determined by the Patent Office or subsequent
competitors.” Reply Br. in Benson at 8. Yet claims such
as Morse code provide very clear definitions of the
patent’s scope, and competitors could easily avoid the
patented method if they so desired.
Finally, a new, judicially created exclusion from
patentable subject matter should not be imposed
without some consideration of the problems that will
arise in administering it. In briefing below, the
government acknowledged that it would “not always be
simple to draw the line between a statutory process
appropriately ‘tied to a particular apparatus’ and a
nonstatutory method with nominal recitations of
structure.” PTO Supp. Br. at 14 (emphasis added). This
passage acknowledges that the actual test to be applied
will not be a bright line rule but will instead require a
standardless assessment of “appropriateness.”
Enforcement of a machine-or-transformation test
presents a real dilemma for the PTO. If the test is treated
formalistically, then it will be easy to evade because
sophisticated patent drafters can always or almost
always include the necessary limitations in their claims.

23
Chakrabarty provides a good example of the problem
with formalisms in this doctrinal area: In trying to
enforce its rule against the patenting of living matter,
the government denied Dr. Chakrabarty a patent on his
artificial bacteria but had granted him a patent on the
living bacteria combined with “a carrier material floating
on water, such as straw.”  447 U.S. at 306. Thus, the
Patent Office’s message to Dr. Chakrabarty was that
his newly engineered bacterium was not patentable, but
with a little added straw, it was. However absurdly
formalistic that approach is, it may be more attractive
than enforcing the nonstatutory restriction with a
functionist approach, which requires further departures
from the statutory text, plus the development of an
extensive jurisprudence on the degree and
appropriateness of the connections with the machine or
transformation.
Since it has begun enforcing its machine-or-
transformation test, the government has vacillated
between the two approaches to this dilemma. For
example, the agency has interpreted its machine-or-
transformation rule to hold unpatentable process claims
that were expressly stated to be “executed in a
computer apparatus” because “[a]ny and all computing
systems will suffice, indicating that the claim is not
directed to the function of any particular machine.”
Ex parte Langemyr, slip op. at 22 (BPAI May 28, 2008)
(available  at  http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/dcom/
bpai/its/fd081495.pdf). Similarly another decision
reasoned that computerized invention was outside of
patentable subject matter because it would “cover any
and every possible digital computer for executing the
[claimed] transformer program.” Ex parte Snyder, slip

24
op. at 22 (BPAI May 12, 2009) (available  at  http://
des.uspto.gov/Foia/ReterivePdf?system=BPAI&
flNm=fd20084598-05-12-2009-1. These decisions
threaten to undermine a substantial number of
meritorious and valuable patents, even though such
inventions seem to fit the statutory definition of a
“process” because they provide new uses for existing
general purpose computers.9
Yet the agency has not been consistent. For example,
U.S. Pat. No. 7,426,488 (2008) on a valuation method
for private equity investments was issued to two
prominent Harvard Business School professors and
their co-inventors. The patent used “software-on-a-disk”
claiming format to cover a “computer program product,
disposed on a computer readable medium,” with
“instructions for causing a processor” to undertake a
certain new financial analysis of private equity
investments. Id. at col. 10. Such a software invention is
of course designed to work on any general purpose
computer.
Similarly, in Ex parte Dickerson, slip op. at 16 (BPAI
July 9, 2009) (available  at  http://des.uspto.gov/Foia/
ReterivePdf?system=BPAI&flNm=fd2009001172-07-
09-2009-1), the agency sustained the patentability of
9. See, e.g., John F. Duffy, The Death of Google’s Patents?
(available  at  http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/law/google
patents101.pdf) (discussing the PTO’s enforcement of its
machine-or-transformation test and the implications for
valuable software patents such as Google’s PageRank™ search
engine patent).

25
computerized methods because they “include[d] a step
of outputting information from a computer (FF 7 and 9-
10) and therefore, are tied to a particular machine or
apparatus.” Finally, in another case, the agency tried to
articulate what appears to be an intermediate position
under which claims to computerized inventions would
be patentable if the process “uses two computing
devices” but not if it “uses a single computer.” Ex parte
Wasynczuk, slip op. at 22 (BPAI June 2, 2008) (available
at  http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/dcom/bpai/its/
fd081496.pdf). Such a test would seem to produce many
uncertainties in an era in which even inexpensive
computers contain dual processors operating on a single
chip (e.g., Intel’s Centrino Duo®).
The uncertainties stemming from the agency’s first
year of experience with this new test are now widely
acknowledged.10 While the lower courts may attempt to
develop this area of law “in the classic old English
model,”11 they will be doing so without any assistance
from statutory text. Moreover, even the patent-expert
Federal Circuit and its predecessors have demonstrated
the difficulty of developing stable common law in this
area: The Bilski en banc decision is the third attempt
in three decades to announce a comprehensive test to
govern the judicial limitations on the text of § 101, and
10. See Tony Dutra, Chief Judge Michel Says Commentary
Reading Too Much Into Bilski Opinion, 78 Pat. Trademark &
Copyright J. (BNA) 373 (July 24, 2009) (quoting Chief Judge
Michel of Federal Circuit as stating that the BPAI had taken
“inconsistent approaches” to the machine requirement since
the Bilski opinion was published).
11. Id.

26
each test was abandoned to make way for the new.12
Patentability tests that cannot survive even half the life
of a patent do not instill confidence in the solidity of the
property rights system.
2. Business Method Exception.
Various amici and one judge below have suggested that
this Court should impose a prohibition on all “business
method” patents. This Court was previously presented
with a chance to endorse a “business method” exception
to patentability. In Dann v. Johnston, 425 U.S. 219 (1976),
the Court declined to rule on whether a computerized
method for maintaining bank records and processing
checks constituted patentable subject matter, even though
the Government devoted the vast bulk of its briefing to
that issue and specifically argued that the process should
be unpatentable because “[t]he federal courts have
repeatedly held that ideas for methods of doing business
are not patentable” and “patents on methods of transacting
business would destroy legitimate competition.” Br. for
Petitioners at 22 n. 18 & 21, in Dann v. Johnston (No. 74-
1033). The Court declined that prior invitation, and instead
focused on the obviousness of the alleged invention, which
is often the core problem with patents that thwart
legitimate competition.
12. The court below disavowed the “useful, concrete and
tangible” test first set forth in its last en banc case addressing
the issue, In  re Alappat, 33 F.3d 1526, 1544 (Fed. Cir. 1994)
(en banc). Alappat, in turn, supplanted the “Freeman-Walter-
Abele” test, which derived from three cases decided between
1978 and 1982. See AT&T Corp. v. Excel Communications, Inc.,
172 F.3d 1352, 1359 (Fed. Cir. 1999) (describing the Freeman-
Walter-Abele test as having “little value” after Alappat).

27
The arguments for a business method exception
have not improved since 1976. For example, in his dissent
below, Judge Mayer argued that “the framers were well
aware of the abuses that led to the English Statute of
Monopolies and therefore ‘consciously acted to bar
Congress from granting letters patent in particular
types of business.’” Pet. App. at 107a (quoting In re
Comiskey, 499 F.3d 1365, 1375 (Fed. Cir. 2007)). But the
history shows that the English Crown was conferring
patent monopolies for common pre-existing products
such as vinegar, salt, horns, iron, bags, bottles, etc. See
1 Walter F. Rogers, The Law of Patents 264 (1914) (listing
the abusive grants). The problem with these grants was
not that they covered business activity—all patents
restrict business activity in the same sense that those
patents did—but that they covered existing products
and businesses “which had long before been enjoyed
by the public.” Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 5
(1966). The solution was not to prohibit patents on
business methods but to prohibit patents on things that
are not new.
Modern law provides even more protection against
the potentially abusive patents. Under the statutory
obviousness doctrine, the courts have an effective tool
designed to restrict the patent system to “those
inventions which would not be disclosed or devised but
for the inducement of a patent.” Id. at 11. This Court
itself has recently re-emphasized the importance of the
nonobviousness requirement in eliminating patents that
“might stifle, rather than promote, the progress of useful
arts.” KSR International Co. v. TeleflexInc., 530 U.S.
at 398, 427 (2007). Thus, given the Graham/KSR
framework, the relevant policy issue for business method

28
patents is whether patents should be available for new
and useful business methods that would otherwise not
be “disclosed or devised.” Even the dissenting judge
below presented no policy reason for why society would
be better off if certain useful business processes remain
unrevealed or undiscovered.
Judge Mayer also argued below that “useful arts”
should be construed to mean “technology.” Pet. App. at
112a. There are three problems with that line of
argument. First, refocusing the inquiry from “art” and
“useful arts” to “technology” or “technological” merely
substitutes modern words that have similarly broad and
perhaps even less well-defined meanings than the
statutory language.
In the modern era, technological means “of, relating
to, or characterized by technology.”13 Technology, in turn,
means variously “the practical application of knowledge
in a particular area,”14 “a manner of accomplishing a task
especially using technical processes, methods, or
knowledge,”15 “the science of the application of
knowledge to practical purposes,”16 “the application of
scientific knowledge to practical purposes in a particular
field,”17 or a “technical method of achieving a practical
13. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary 2348
(1963); Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary 1206 (10th ed.
2001).
14. Id.
15. Id.
16. Webster’s Third, supra note 13, at 2348.
17. Id.

29
purpose.”18 Finally, “technical” means “having special
usu[ally] practical knowledge, especially of a mechanical
or scientific subject,” or “of or relating to a practical
subject organized on scientific principles.”19 Thus, one
fair definition of technological is “characterized by the
practical application of knowledge in a particular field.”20
Under this definition, innovations in business, finance,
and other applied economic fields plainly qualify as
“technological.”
Second, if a more narrow definition were selected—
e.g., Judge Mayer preferred to define technology as
“application of science, especially to industrial or
commercial objectives,” Pet. App. 117a—such a definition
would seem to exclude whole fields, such as games, in
which the United States has issued so many patents that
the field has its own major classification and dozens of
subclasses. See PTO Classification 273 for Amusement
Devices: Games (available at http://www.uspto.gov/web/
patents/classification/uspc273/sched273.htm).
Third and finally, even accepting the narrowest
definition of “technology” advanced, modern innovations
in business, finance, and the like easily qualify because
they represent practical applications of economic
science. Economists themselves now view their field as
18. Id.
19. Id.
20. This definition is most consistent with the Greek
origins of the word, which is a combination of technikos,
meaning “art, skillful, practical,” Webster’s Third, supra note
13, at 2348, and logos, meaning “word, reason, speech, account,”
Id. at 1331.

30
constituting a “mathematical science” with closer affinity
to physics and engineering than to liberal arts like
English literature.21 Thus, the winners of the Nobel
Prize for “Economic Sciences,” established in 1968, are
selected by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the
same body responsible for selecting the Nobel Prizes in
Chemistry and Physics.22 By contrast the Nobel Prize
for Literature is selected by the Swedish Academy, which
describes itself as a “cultural institution.”23 Similarly, the
British Royal Society – which has traditionally limited
its members to scientists – in 2004 conferred fellowship
on its first economist.24 And what is frequently
considered one of the best graduate departments
of economics in this country is housed in the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology.25
21. See,  e.g., Giorgio Israel, How Economics Became a
Mathematical Science, 114 Econ. J. F369 (2004).
22. See,  e.g., The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic
Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, http://nobelprize.org/
nobel_prizes/economics/ (noting creation of economics prize);
Nomination and Selection of the Laureates in Economics, http:/
/nobelprize.org/nomination/economics/process.html (setting
forth selection process).
23. See http://www.svenskaakademien.se/Templates/
S t a r t Pa g e 2 . a s p x ? Pa g e I D = c a 2 d a 0 3 d - 4 6 2 3 - 4 8 a 1 - 9 b 0 1 -
7f450c1b59c7 (the Academy’s English-version homepage).
24. See Nine Staff Named New Fellows of the Royal Society,
http://www.admin.cam.ac.uk/news/dp/2004060102 (June 2, 2004)
(announcing election of Partha Dasgupta).
25. See,  e.g.,  http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsand
reviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-economics-schools/
rankings (showing MIT tied for first in the rankings of
economics departments published by US News and World
Report).

31
Furthermore, in the last half century, the industrial
reality is that many business problems are being addressed
and solved as problems of applied science and
engineering.  This extension of science and engineering
was recognized over a half century ago, when Professor
Herbert Simon of the Carnegie Institute of Technology
noted that the new area of “[n]ormative microeconomics,
carried forward under such labels as ‘management science,’
‘engineering economics,’ and ‘operations research,’ is now
a flourishing area of work” and “[m]uch of the work is being
done by mathematicians, statisticians, engineers, and
physical scientists.”26 By the 1980s, this development had
spread to the workplace, with financial firms hiring
“mathematicians and physicists” to become the “rocket
scientists” of their industry.27 Now, fields like financial
engineering and operations research are so well
established that major universities (especially
technological universities) have established programs,
laboratories and even whole departments of engineering
to address business issues in a rigorous manner.28
26. Herbert A. Simon, Theories of Decision-Making in
Economics and Behavioral Science, 49 Am. Econ. Rev. 253, 254
(1959).
27. Winston Williams, The Big Board Battle to Contain
the Damage, N.Y. Times, Oct. 25, 1987, sec. 3, p. 8.
28. Seee.g., MIT’s Laboratory for Financial Engineering
(http://lfe.mit.edu/about/intro.htm); Cornell’s Financial
Engineering Concentration in its School of Operations Research
and Information Engineering (see http://www.orie.cornell.edu/
orie/academics/meng/programdescription/options/fineng.cfm);
and Princeton’s Operations Research & Financial Engineering
Department in the university’s School of Engineering and
Applied Science (http://orfe.princeton.edu/).

32
The modern growth of business sciences and
engineering also explains the limited number of
business method patents prior to the late twentieth
century and the increase in such patents in modern
times. Even in a legal system with no bar to business
method patents, such patents will not be sought if
parties cannot satisfy the normal requirements of the
patent law. Where principles of economics and business
are poorly developed and poorly understood, few new
true novelties will be developed; fewer still be
nonobvious; and fewer still might be capable of being
described and claimed in a manner sufficiently clear to
satisfy the requirements of § 112 of the Patent Act.
This Court has previously seen a very similar
circumstance in Chakrabarty.  In that case, there was
no historical evidence of extensive patenting of living
things, and Congress had thought it necessary even to
enact a special statute to allow the patenting of plants.
In Chakrabarty, four Justices opined that this evidence
demonstrated both a “common understanding” and
“Congress’s understanding” that living things were
unpatentable.  See 447 U.S. at 319, 320 (Brennen, J.,
dissenting). However, the better view—adopted by the
majority—was that living things had previously been
unpatentable not because they were per se outside of
the broad language in § 101 but because, in more
primitive times, the cultivators of new varieties of living
things could not provide a written description of their
creations, including a description of how to make their
creations, with sufficient detail and precision to satisfy
§ 112 of the Patent Act. Id. at 312-14.

33
The case for rejecting a per se exclusion is even
stronger here than it was in Chakrabarty. Unlike in
Chakrabarty, historical sources demonstrate that
patents on business methods and other business
technologies were not unknown even in the nineteenth
century.29 The PTO formally dropped its own per se
business method rule in 1995 (well before the Federal
Circuit’s decision in State Street Bank & Trust Co. v.
Signature Financial Group,  Inc., 149 F.3d 1368 (Fed.
Cir. 1998)),30 and the agency had been issuing business
method patents for some years prior to its formal
abandonment of its per se business method exclusion.
And far from passing legislation based on the premise
that the relevant subject is unpatentable (as Congress
did in enacting the Plant Patent Act), Congress enacted
legislation in 1999 based on the assumption that business
methods were patentable.
29. See USPTO White Paper, Automated Financial or
Management Data Processing Methods (Business Methods) iv
(available  at  http://www.uspto.gov/web/menu/busmethp/
whitepaper.pdf) (finding that the “business method claim
format has been used in various forms throughout that period”
dating back “over a hundred years” and that is has became
more common because of “progress over the last century”).
30. Compare  Manual of Patent Examining Procedures
§ 701.03(a), 700-14 (6th ed. Jan. 1995) (available at http://www.
uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/old/E6R0_700.pdf) (endorsing
the business method exception) with Manual of Patent
Examining Procedures § 701.03(a), 700-28 – 700-29 (6th ed., rev.
1 Sept. 1995) (available at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/
mpep/old/E6R1_700.pdf) (omitting the business method
exception).

34
III. Precedent Does Not Foreclose Reliance on the
Text of § 101.
In  Parker v. Flook, 437 U.S. 584, 589 (1978), this
Court held that the holding in Benson  “forecloses a
purely literal reading of § 101.” Flook does not, however,
mean that judicial common-law making must supplant
textual analysis in deciding § 101 cases.
This Court’s precedents demonstrate that the broad
general statutory language remains the primary guide
to deciding statutory subject matter cases, and the
Court’s departures from the text have been extremely
modest. This Court has traditionally held that, despite
the broad statutory language in § 101, “laws of nature,
physical phenomena, and abstract ideas” are not
patentable. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. at 309. The first two
of these categories presents little, if any, restriction on
the plain meanings of the statute. As our historical
analysis shows, even the broadest word originally in
§ 101—”art”—was restricted to the “power of doing
something  not  taught by nature and instinct.”
1  Johnson  Dictionary at n182 (available  at  http://
www.archive.org/stream/dictionaryofengl01john
uoft#page/n182/mode/1up) (emphasis added).
The prohibition on “abstract ideas” is also easily
reconciled with the text and structure of the statute.
Section 101 expressly includes the requirement that
patentable processes, methods and arts must be
“useful.” An abstraction is not. The Patent Act also
requires applicants (i) to provide a written description
of how to make and use the invention in “full, clear,
concise, and exact terms” and (ii) to define the property

35
rights by “particularly pointing out and distinctly
claiming” the invention. 35 U.S.C. § 112. Abstract ideas
could not satisfy these requirements and therefore are
not processes capable of being patented.
Limiting § 101 in the way argued by the government
would require a much greater departure from statutory
text than that sanctioned in Church of the Holy Trinity
v. United States, 143 U.S. 457 (1892), which is often
thought to mark the outer bounds of this Court’s
willingness to impose a judicial gloss on broad and
controlling statutory text.31 In Church of the Holy
Trinity, the Church successfully argued that the broad
but clear language of a statute regulating “labor or
service of any kind” should apply only to manual service
and labor. As in this case, the relevant statutory words
31. The  Church of the Holy Trinity’s invocation of
statutory “spirit” has been controversial. See Public Citizen v.
U.S. Department of Justice, 491 U.S. 440, 473 (1989) (Kennedy,
J., concurring in the judgment) (rejecting Church of the Holy
Trinity because  “it does not foster a democratic exegesis for
this Court to rummage through unauthoritative materials to
consult the spirit of the legislation in order to discover an
alternative interpretation of the statute with which the Court
is more comfortable”); id. (“The problem with spirits is that
they tend to reflect less the views of the world whence they
come than the views of those who seek their advice.”); Zuni
Public School Dist. No. 89 v. Department of Education, 550 U.
S. 81, ___ (2007) (slip op. at 11) (Scalia, J., dissenting) (criticizing
Church of the Holy Trinity for “disregard[ing] the plain text of
a statute” and observing that “what judges believe Congress
‘meant’ (apart from the text) has a disturbing but entirely
unsurprising tendency to be whatever judges think Congress
must have meant, i.e.,  should have meant”) (emphasis in
original).

36
in Holy Trinity had broad, but clear meanings and were
modified by the word “any.” As in this case, the starting
point for imposing a judicial gloss was the assertion
that Congress could not have intended a literal
interpretation.
Beyond those basic similarities, however, this case
includes numerous factors not present in Church of the
Holy Trinity. Here, unlike in Holy Trinity, the statute
has been in place for hundreds of years, and Congress
has done nothing other than to add broad language to
the existing broad language. Here, unlike in Holy
Trinity, the key statutory term (“process”) has an
express definition, which contains other broad but
clear words. Here, unlike in Holy Trinity, the
relevant statutory language underscores Congress’s
understanding that the language in the statute is
sweeping broad. By contrast, in Holy Trinity, some
congressional reports expressly stated that legislators
“believ[ed]” the language would be construed narrowly
to encompass only labor “manual in character.”
Id. at 464.
Finally, in Holy Trinity, the statute already
contained several exceptions, all of which tended to
confirm that Congress’s overarching policy was more
limited. In the Patent Act, however, Congress has
maintained a long tradition of broadly defining
patentable subject matter. Rather than restricting
patentable subject matter, Congress has adjusted the
rights applicable to certain classes of patents. Seee.g.,
35 U.S.C. §§ 181-188 (imposing certain restriction on
patents for inventions that may be detrimental to the
national security); § 287(c) (restricting remedies for

37
patents for surgical methods). Congress has already
made one such adjustment to accommodate business
method patents. Id. § 273. In these circumstances, the
case for a departure from the literal language of the
statute is extraordinarily weak.
IV. The Decision in this Court Should Be Limited
to the Questions Presented.
Bilski’s claims are properly categorized as a
“method” for managing certain types of risk in the
purchasing of commodities, and they therefore fall within
the literal language of a process as defined by Congress
in § 100(b). To satisfy § 101, however, Bilski’s claimed
method must not be an abstract idea, physical
phenomenon, or principle of nature (limitations that are
reflected in the text and structure of the Patent Act).
In the Court of Appeals, the PTO argued in the
alternative that Bilski’s claims failed to qualify as
patentable subject matter because they were abstract
ideas. We take no position on that issue but note one
final point.
Whether Bilski’s particular invention is an
unpatentable abstract idea is not fairly included within
the questions presented here, was not decided by the
court below, had not been the focus of briefing in this
Court, and is a fact-bound question of little importance
to the patent system. Accordingly, there are strong
prudential reasons for this Court to limit its decision to
the questions presented.

38
CONCLUSION
The Court should reverse the decision below and
remand the case to the Court of Appeals.
Respectfully submitted,
JOHN A. SQUIRES
JOHN F. DUFFY
WALTER G. HANCHUK
Counsel of Record
CHARLES M. FISH
FRIED FRANK HARRIS SHRIVER
JOHN KHEIT
& JACOBSON LLP
CHADBOURNE & PARKE LLP
1001 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.
30 Rockefeller Plaza
Washington, DC 20004
New York, NY 10112
(202) 639-7000
(212) 408-5100
Attorneys for Amici Curiae