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 ACCENTURE AND 
PITNEY BOWES INC.  AS  AMICI CURIAE 
IN SUPPORT OF PETITIONERS 
----------------- ♦ ----------------- 
WAYNE P. SOBON 
MEREDITH MARTIN ADDY
ACCENTURE 
  Counsel of Record 
50 W. San Fernando St. 
JOEL W. BENSON 
Suite 1200 
CHARLES M. MCMAHON 
San Jose, CA 95113 
BRINKS HOFER GILSON & LIONE
(408) 817-2170 
455 N. Cityfront Plaza Dr. 
Chicago, IL 60611 
STEVEN J. SHAPIRO 
(312) 321-4200 
PITNEY BOWES INC. 
 
35 Waterview Dr. 
 
Shelton, CT 06484 
 
(203) 924-3880 
 
August 5, 2009 
Counsel for Amici Curiae
================================================================ 
COCKLE LAW BRIEF PRINTING CO. (800) 225-6964 
OR CALL COLLECT (402) 342-2831 


 
TABLE OF CONTENTS 
Page 
INTEREST OF THE AMICI CURIAE ...................  

SUMMARY OF THE ARGUMENT .......................  

INTRODUCTION ...................................................   

ARGUMENT ...........................................................  

  I.   
AN INVENTIVE PROCESS SATISFIES 
SECTION 101 IF IT IS USEFUL ...............  

A. 
 
 
The Constitution Establishes the 
“Usefulness” Standard for Patentability ..  

B.  
The Patent Statute Mandates the 
“Usefulness” Standard .............................   11 
C. 
  The Court Has Consistently Applied 
the “Usefulness” Standard ....................   14 
  II.   
SECTIONS 102, 103, AND 112 – NOT 
SECTION 101 – DEFINE THE “CON-
DITIONS AND REQUIREMENTS” FOR 
PATENTABILITY ........................................   18 
 III.   THE FEDERAL CIRCUIT’S RIGID RULE 
FOR PATENT ELIGIBILITY HAS NO 
REASONABLE BASIS ................................   23 
A.   The Court Has Denounced Rigid Rules in 
Favor of More Flexible Approaches ......   24 
B.  
The Federal Circuit Departs from the 
Court’s Flexible Approach to Section 101 ..   26 
C. 
  
The Federal Circuit Ignores Recent 
Congressional Action Embracing the 
Flexible Approach to Section 101 ..........   30 

ii 
 
TABLE OF CONTENTS – Continued 
Page 
 IV.   
THE “MACHINE-OR-TRANSFORMATION” 
TEST IS NOT A RELIABLE INDICATOR 
OF USEFULNESS .......................................   33 
A.   Useful Processes May or May Not Be Tied 
to a Machine or Transform an Article ......   34 
B.   The “Machine-or-Transformation” Test 
Forecloses Useful Innovation Well 
Beyond the Bilski Claims ......................   38 
CONCLUSION .......................................................   40 

iii 
 
TABLE OF AUTHORITIES 
Page 
CASES 
Corning v. Burden
56 U.S. (15 How.) 252 (1853) .................................. 16 
Diamond v. Diehr
450 U.S. 175 (1981) ......................................... passim 
Feist Publ’ns, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co.
499 U.S. 340 (1991) ................................................. 10 
Festo Corp. v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo 
Kabushiki Co.
535 U.S. 722 (2002) ........................................... 25, 30 
Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kalo Inoculant Co.
333 U.S. 127 (1948) ................................................. 16 
Gottschalk v. Benson
409 U.S. 63 (1972) ........................................... passim 
In re Bergy
596 F.2d 952 (C.C.P.A. 1979) ............................ 19, 20 
In re Bilski
545 F.3d 943 (Fed. Cir. 2008) .......................... passim 
KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex Inc.
550 U.S. 398 (2007) ........................................... 25, 30 
Lab. Corp. of Am. Holdings v. Metabolite Labs., Inc.
126 S. Ct. 2921 (2006) ............................................. 22 
Le Roy v. Tatham
55 U.S. (14 How.) 156 (1852) .................................. 16 
O’Reilly v. Morse
56 U.S. (15 How.) 62 (1853) .............................. 14, 21 
 

iv 
 
TABLE OF AUTHORITIES – Continued 
Page 
Parker v. Flook
437 U.S. 584 (1978) ......................................... passim 
Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Elecs., Inc.
128 S. Ct. 2109 (2008) ....................................... 25, 26 
State St. Bank & Trust Co. v. Signature Fin. 
Group, Inc.
149 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1998) .......................... 30, 31 
The Telephone Cases
126 U.S. 1 (1888) ..................................................... 15 
Tilghman v. Proctor
102 U.S. 707 (1880) ........................................... 27, 28 
 
CONSTITUTION 
U.S. CONST., art. I, § 8, cl. 8 .......................... 8, 9, 23, 37 
 
STATUTES 
35 U.S.C. § 100(b) ....................................................... 13 
35 U.S.C. § 101 ................................................... passim 
35 U.S.C. § 102 ................................................... passim 
35 U.S.C. § 103 ................................................... passim 
35 U.S.C. § 112 .................................................... passim 
35 U.S.C. § 273 ............................................... 30, 31, 32 
Patent Act of 1790, 
Ch. 7, 1 Stat. 109-112 (1790) .............................. 7, 11 
 
 


 
TABLE OF AUTHORITIES – Continued 
Page 
Patent Act of 1793, 
Ch. 11, 1 Stat. 318-323, § 1 (1793) .......................... 12 
Patent Act of 1952, 
Ch. 950, 66 Stat. 792, § 101 (1952) ................. passim 
 
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY 
H.R. CONF. REP. No. 106-464 (1999) .......................... 32 
S. REP. No. 82-1979, reprinted in 1952 
U.S.C.C.A.N. 2394 ....................................... 13, 14, 20 
THE  FEDERALIST  NO. 43, 288 (James Madison) 
(B. Wright ed. 1961) ............................................ 9, 10 
 
RULES 
Supreme Court Rule 37 ............................................ 1, 2 
 
OTHER AUTHORITIES 
ADEDEJI B. BADIRU, HANDBOOK OF INDUSTRIAL 
AND SYSTEMS ENGINEERING 
(Taylor & Francis Group 2006) ............................... 37 
GEORGE TICKNOR CURTIS, A TREATISE ON THE 
LAW OF PATENTS FOR USEFUL INVENTIONS 
(1849) ....................................................................... 15 
DAVID L. APPLEGATE ET AL., THE TRAVELLING 
SALESMAN: A COMPUTATIONAL STUDY 
(Princeton University Press 2006) ......................... 33 

vi 
 
TABLE OF AUTHORITIES – Continued 
Page 
GAVRIEL SALENDY, HANDBOOK OF INDUSTRIAL 
ENGINEERING 
(John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 3d ed. 2001) ................... 36 
General Requirements Bulletin for Admission 
to the Examination for Registration to Prac-
tice in Patent Cases Before the United States 
Patent and Trademark Office (Jan. 2008) ............. 36 
MPEP § 706.03(a)(II) ............................................ 33, 34 
NOAH  WEBSTER, DICTIONARY  OF  THE  ENGLISH 
LANGUAGE (11th ed. 1833) ......................................... 9 
OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY (2d ed. 1991) .................. 9 
RICHARD GUY WILSON ET AL., THE MACHINE AGE 
IN AMERICA 1918-1941 (1986) .................................. 23 
THOMAS SHERIDAN, GENERAL DICTIONARY OF THE 
ENGLISH LANGUAGE (1780) ......................................... 9 
WAYNE C. TURNER ET AL., INTRODUCTION TO 
INDUSTRIAL AND SYSTEMS ENGINEERING 
(Prentice Hall, 3d ed. 1993) .................................... 36 


INTEREST OF THE AMICI CURIAE1 
 
Accenture and Pitney Bowes Inc. have joined in 
this  amicus brief to encourage the Court to correct a 
serious mistake in the law. Accenture2 is one of the 
world’s leading management consulting, technology 
services, and outsourcing organizations, serving 96 of 
the Fortune Global 100 and more than three-quarters 
of the Fortune Global 500.  
 
Accenture collaborates with clients to help them 
become high-performance businesses. This strategy 
builds on Accenture’s expertise in consulting, 
technology and outsourcing to help clients create 
sustainable value for their customers and share-
holders. With approximately 177,000 people serving 
clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture 
generated more than $23 billion in net revenues for 
the fiscal year ended August 31, 2008.  
 
Accenture spends annually about $400 million on 
research and development. As a result of these 
 
 
1  In accordance with Supreme Court Rule 37, Accenture and 
Pitney Bowes state that this brief was not authored, in whole or 
in part by counsel to a party, and that no monetary contribution 
to the preparation or submission of this brief was made by any 
person or entity other than the amici curiae or their counsel.  
 
2 “Accenture” refers to the Accenture group of companies 
including Accenture LLP, an Illinois limited liability partner-
ship, doing business on behalf of Accenture within the United 
States, and Accenture Global Services GmbH, a Switzerland 
limited liability company, registered owner of many of 
Accenture’s U.S. patents. 


efforts, Accenture has filed more than 600 U.S. patent 
applications and obtained more than 360 U.S. 
patents. Many of these patents and applications are 
directed to methods for managing or improving a 
wide variety of business processes within various 
industrial and organizational settings.  
 
Pitney Bowes is a Fortune 500 technology 
company that delivers service and innovation to more 
than two million customers worldwide by managing 
the flow of information, mail, documents, and 
packages. Pitney Bowes has consistently been an 
innovator and a technology leader, with its patent 
portfolio dating back over a hundred years. 
 
Today, Pitney Bowes employs about thirty-five 
thousand people worldwide with annual revenues of 
approximately $6.3 billion. Since 1976, Pitney Bowes 
has obtained over 2500 U.S. patents and currently 
has about 550 pending U.S. patent applications. 
Pitney Bowes’ diverse patent portfolio includes 
various hardware and software implemented 
technologies, but a significant portion of its portfolio 
concerns methods for managing and improving 
business operations. 
 
Accenture and Pitney Bowes have no interest in 
any party to this litigation or stake in the outcome of 
this case, other than their joint desire for a correct 
interpretation and application of the United States 
Patent Laws. 
 
In accordance with Supreme Court Rule 37, 
counsel for the amici curiae provided timely notice to 


and obtained written consent to the filing of this brief 
from counsel of record for the parties. The letters of 
consent have been filed with the Clerk of the Court. 
----------------- ♦ ----------------- 
 
SUMMARY OF THE ARGUMENT 
 
The standard for patent eligible subject matter is 
both simple and elegant. Grounded in the 
constitutional mandate to promote the useful arts, 
the patent statute broadly embraces all manner of 
“useful” inventions, including processes, machines, 
manufactures, and compositions of matter. 35 U.S.C. 
§ 
101. This straightforward and open standard 
ensures that the patent system adapts to embrace 
new and innovative technology. 
  The Court’s decisions have reinforced the 
statute’s standard, drawing limits only for claimed 
inventions that are not truly useful, such as abstract 
ideas. Such fundamental principles, including laws 
of nature, physical phenomena, and mathematical 
formulas, are not useful in themselves and therefore 
are not subject to patent protection. They become 
useful only when applied to achieve a practical and 
beneficial result in the world. Accordingly, a practical 
application of an abstract idea or a mathematical 
formula to provide a useful result may be patented, 
provided it satisfies the other conditions and 
requirements of the patent statute. 
 
Though the “usefulness” test for patent eligibility 
is open and flexible, the other conditions and 


requirements for grant of a patent are far more 
restrictive. A patentable invention also must be both 
new and nonobvious. In addition, the inventor must 
fully and clearly describe the invention to enable 
others to understand and practice it. The inventor 
also must claim the invention distinctly to inform 
the public of its reasonable metes and bounds. 
Enforcement of these requirements ensures that, 
after examination, granted patents legitimately 
promote the useful arts and advance the frontiers of 
technology, as the nation’s founders intended. 
 
The Federal Circuit’s en banc decision in In 
re Bilski, 545 F.3d 943 (Fed. Cir. 2008), imposes a 
single, exclusive, and unbending “machine-or-
transformation” test that arbitrarily limits the scope 
of patent eligible processes, disregards contrary 
Constitutional and Congressional mandates, and 
violates the Court’s precedent. The effect of the Bilski 
decision is immediate and sweeping, adversely 
impacting current and future patent rights. It 
unnecessarily ties the process category of 35 U.S.C. 
§ 101 to one of the other categories of that section, 
such as the “machine” or “manufacture” category. The 
Court should correct the Federal Circuit’s error and 
reaffirm the flexible section 101 standard for process 
patent eligibility, consistent with the Constitution, 
the patent statute, and this Court’s past decisions. 
The standard for process patent eligibility is the 
straightforward threshold question of usefulness. 
----------------- ♦ ----------------- 
 


INTRODUCTION 
 The 
amici curiae, Accenture and Pitney Bowes, 
submit this brief to address the core “usefulness” 
standard of process patent eligibility and to provide 
a perspective that has received relatively little 
attention in the record. 
 
The elegance of the constitutional standard flows 
from a single word: “useful.” The concept of 
usefulness unites the Constitution, the evolving 
patent statute, and over 200 years of the Court’s 
precedent regarding patent eligibility. The usefulness 
standard ensures that an invention has utility, 
meaning that it actually works. Yet, the concept goes 
beyond simple utility. It demands that an invention 
have practical application in the world. As a result, 
abstract ideas are not patentable because they are 
not useful. But a practical application of an abstract 
idea, which provides a useful result in the world, may 
be patentable, provided it satisfies the other 
conditions and requirements of patentability.3 
 
Congress implemented the usefulness standard 
as part of its constitutional mandate to promote the 
 
 
3  “Useful” in the constitutional and statutory sense must be 
understood to require practical application of ideas in the world. 
To be sure, many abstract ideas may be useful in a general 
sense. For example, Euclid’s axioms are useful to generate 
further geometric theorems or results. However, only a practical 
application of Euclidean geometry may produce a useful result 
in the world, thereby satisfying the particular “usefulness” 
standard of section 101. 


advance of the useful arts, broadly drafting the patent 
statute without technological exclusions, ready to 
embrace yet unknown innovations. Since then, the 
Court has consistently applied this open and flexible 
“usefulness” standard in determining subject matter 
eligibility for all sorts of inventions, including 
processes. 
 Sadly, 
the 
en banc Bilski decision takes a 
monumental step backwards. Misinterpreting this 
Court’s precedent, the Federal Circuit rigidly 
proclaims that a process is patentable subject matter 
only if “(1) it is tied to a particular machine or 
apparatus, or (2) it transforms a particular article 
into a different state or thing.” Bilski, 545 F.3d at 
954. So, in this age when the usefulness of our 
inventions and the vitality of our economy 
increasingly depend on the creative and innovative 
use of information and services, it seems almost 
inconceivable that the court forced our patent system 
to recognize only specific prior, time-worn 
technologies. The cases construing the statute do not 
require or imply any type of rigid rule regarding 
required technology for a patent eligible invention. 
Indeed, the cases counsel a more flexible approach.  
 
The usefulness of the invention, as a practical 
application of ideas in the world, is the fundamental 
key for patent eligibility, not the particular means 
(i.e. machines or material transformations) employed 
to implement the invention. Promoting the “useful 
 
 


arts” is as important today as it was when the 
founding fathers drafted the Constitution. Innovative 
processes have driven this nation’s economy for 
centuries, and they continue to do so. Though 
“useful,” many of these processes have not involved 
any particular machine or transformation. Nothing 
in the Constitution, the patent statute, or this Court’s 
precedent justifies excluding such processes from 
patent eligibility. 
----------------- ♦ ----------------- 
 
ARGUMENT 
I.  AN INVENTIVE PROCESS SATISFIES 
SECTION 101 IF IT IS USEFUL 
 
An invention is eligible for patent protection if it 
is useful. This standard applies equally to any 
invention, whether it is a process, a machine, a 
manufacture, or a composition of matter. 35 U.S.C. 
§ 101.  
 The 
“usefulness” 
standard is rooted in the 
Constitution and has appeared in every patent 
statute since the original Patent Act of 1790. It 
provides a compact rule for identifying patent-eligible 
subject matter. Nothing in the Constitution, the 
statute, or the Court’s prior decisions justifies 
changing this standard. 
 
 


  Of course, section 101 presents only the 
threshold inquiry of eligible subject matter; ultimate 
patentability is subject to the other conditions and 
requirements of Title 35. Id. Congress codified these 
other conditions and requirements in 35 U.S.C. 
§§ 102, 103, and 112, which ensure that patentable 
inventions are novel, nonobvious, sufficiently 
described, and distinctly claimed. For purposes of the 
present case, however, the focus must remain on 
section 101 and the historically open “usefulness” 
standard for eligible subject matter. 
 
A. 
The Constitution Establishes the 
“Usefulness” Standard for Patentability 
 
The usefulness standard for patent eligibility 
flows from the Constitution, which empowered 
Congress to establish a patent system: 
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., art. I, § 8, cl. 8. From the beginning, the 
founders intended that the patent system would 
protect inventions to promote the useful arts. The 
eighteenth century meaning of this phrase, “useful 
Arts,” included but was in fact broader than what we 
now might consider “technology,” and embraced all 


manner of practical applications of skill or craft that 
achieve useful results.4 
 
By contrast, the copyright system, which was 
authorized by the same constitutional clause, was 
designed to promote “Science” by providing authors 
with exclusive rights to their writings. U.S. CONST., 
art. I, § 8, cl. 8. Eighteenth century usage of the term 
“Science” referred to knowledge generally, not just 
hard sciences.5 
  In the Federalist Papers, James Madison 
justified both the patent and copyright systems, 
 
 
4  See  THOMAS  SHERIDAN, GENERAL  DICTIONARY  OF  THE 
ENGLISH LANGUAGE (1780) (useful: “convenient, profitable to any 
end, conducive or helpful to any purpose;” art: “the power of 
doing something not taught by nature and instinct; a science, as 
the liberal arts; a trade; artfulness; skill; dexterity; cunning;”). 
The original sense of “technology” derives from the Greek 
“techné,” the primary meaning of which is simply “art, craft” (as 
opposed to “episteme,” which referred to “scientific knowledge, a 
system of understanding”). See OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY, Vol. 
V. 338, Vol. XVII 705 (2d ed. 1991); see also NOAH  WEBSTER, 
DICTIONARY  OF  THE  ENGLISH  LANGUAGE 35 (11th ed. 1833). 
Indeed, the term “technology” was much broader than its 
current meaning but rather matched the breadth encompassed 
by the “useful arts.” SHERIDAN,  supra  (technology: “a treatise on 
the arts, and explanation of terms of art”). Nothing in these 
definitions limits “useful arts” or “technology” to machines or 
physical transformations. 
 
5  SHERIDAN,  supra  note 3, gives “knowledge” as the first 
definition of “science.” Science therefore broadly encompasses 
the exposition and development of abstract ideas, which are also 
the raw fodder for developing practical applications and the 
useful arts.  

10 
emphasizing that patentable inventions must be 
useful
The utility of this power will scarcely be 
questioned. The copy right of authors has 
been solemnly adjudged in Great Britain to 
be a right at common law. The right to useful 
inventions seems with equal reason to belong 
to the inventors. 
THE  FEDERALIST  NO. 43, 288 (James Madison) (B. 
Wright ed. 1961) (emphasis added). 
 
Neither the copyright system nor the patent 
system provides exclusive rights in abstract ideas 
themselves. Copyright may protect an original 
expression of an abstract idea, but not the idea itself. 
See Feist Publ’ns, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 
340, 348 (1991). Similarly, a patent may protect a 
practical application of an abstract idea that yields a 
useful result, but also not the idea itself. Thus, ideas, 
though neither copyrightable nor patentable in their 
own right, provide the background from which spring 
copyrightable expressions and patentable inventions. 
 
For example, Einstein’s formula, E=mc2, is a law 
of nature in the abstract – available to all, and not 
protectable by copyright or patent. A copyright, 
however, may protect a physics textbook that 
expresses the formula and its effects in an original 
way. Likewise, a patent may protect a practical 
application of the formula that produces a useful 

11 
result. To be patentable, the invention must satisfy 
additional conditions,6 but to satisfy the threshold 
constitutional eligibility requirement, the invention 
must simply be “useful.”  
 
B. The Patent Statute Mandates the 
“Usefulness” Standard 
 
Since the original Patent Act of 1790, Congress 
has sustained and emphasized the constitutionally 
broad scope of patentable subject matter. The title of 
the 1790 Act, “An Act to Promote Progress of the 
Useful Arts,” echoed the Constitution’s “usefulness” 
standard for patent eligible subject matter. Patent 
Act of 1790, Ch. 7, 1 Stat. 109-112 (1790) (current 
version at 35 U.S.C. § 101 et seq.). The 1790 Act 
authorized issuance of letters patent to an inventor 
who has “invented or discovered any useful art, 
manufacture, engine, machine, or device, or any 
improvement therein not before known or used, . . . ” 
Id., § 1 (emphasis added). 
 
Three years later, Congress enacted a new patent 
act, authorizing grant of a patent to an inventor who 
has “invented any new and useful art, machine, 
 
 
6  Sections 102, 103, and 112 of the present patent statute 
define the conditions and requirements for patentability (i.e., 
novelty, nonobviousness, sufficient description, and claim 
definiteness). 35 U.S.C. §§ 102, 103, 112. Section II, infra
addresses these conditions and requirements, which are 
separate from the eligible subject matter requirement of section 
101. 

12 
manufacture or composition of matter, or any new 
and  useful improvement on any art, machine, 
manufacture or composition of matter, not known or 
used before the application.” Patent Act of 1793, 
Ch. 11, 1 Stat. 318-323, § 1 (1793) (current version at 
35 U.S.C. § 101 et seq.) (emphasis added). Congress 
changed the language slightly, specifying that the 
invention had to be “new,”7 but the “usefulness” 
standard for patent eligibility remained. 
 
Throughout its evolution, the patent statute 
always has defined “useful” inventions as the proper 
subject matter for patent protection. In relevant part, 
the statute remains largely unchanged from the 1793 
Act. Even the Patent Act of 1952, which significantly 
revised and restructured the statute, left the 
“usefulness” standard untouched. Patent Act of 1952, 
Ch. 950, 66 Stat. 792, § 101 (1952) (current version at 
35 U.S.C. § 101). 
 
One noteworthy change in the 1952 Act was 
substitution of the word “process” in place of “art” in 
what is now known as section 101:  
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. 
 
 
7 “New” here simply restates the requirement for “in-
vention” or “discovery” in the prior act. 

13 
35 U.S.C. § 101 (emphasis added). The 1952 Act also 
introduced a definition for “process”: 
The term “process” means process, art, or 
method, and includes a new use of a known 
process, machine, manufacture, composition 
of matter, or material. 
35 U.S.C. § 100(b).8 
 
The Committee Report for the new statute 
acknowledged the sweeping breadth of potentially 
 
 
8 The legislative history accompanying the 1952 Act 
explains the substitution of “process” in place of the 
longstanding term “art”: 
Referring first to section 101, this section specifies the 
type of material which can be the subject matter of a 
patent. The present law states that any person who 
has invented or discovered any ‘‘new and useful art, 
machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or 
any new or useful improvement thereof ’’ may obtain a 
patent. That language has been preserved except that 
the word ‘‘art’’ which appears in the present statute 
has been changed to the word ‘‘process.’’ ‘‘Art’’ in this 
place in the present statute has a different meaning 
than the words ‘‘useful art’’ in the Constitution, and a 
different meaning than the use of the word ‘‘art’’ in 
other places in the statutes, and it is interpreted by 
the courts to be practically synonymous with process or 
method. The word ‘‘process’’ has been used to avoid the 
necessity of explanation that the word ‘‘art’’ as used in 
this place means ‘‘process or method,’’ and that it does 
not mean the same thing as the word ‘‘art’’ in other 
places. 
S. REP. No. 82-1979, at 5 (1952), reprinted in 1952 U.S.C.C.A.N. 
2394, 2398 (emphasis added). 

14 
patentable subject matter contemplated by section 
101, stressing that it “may include anything under 
the sun that is made by man. . . .”9 S. REP. No. 82-
1979, at 5, reprinted in 1952 U.S.C.C.A.N. 2394, 2399 
(emphasis added). 
 
Hence, section 101 defines processes as a 
category of invention on par with machines, 
manufactures, and compositions of matter, and it 
applies the “usefulness” standard for patent eligibility 
equally to all. The statute imposes no more particular 
patent eligibility requirements on processes than it 
does on the other categories of patentable inventions.  
 
Nor has this Court or any other court imposed 
additional limitations on the patent eligibility 
standard for process inventions, at least not prior to 
Bilski
 
C. The Court Has Consistently Applied 
the “Usefulness” Standard 
 
Long before Congress passed the 1952 Act, the 
Court recognized useful processes as eligible for 
patent protection. In O’Reilly v. Morse, 56 U.S. (15 
How.) 62, 130 (1853), the Court explained: “[a] new 
and useful art or a new and useful improvement on 
any known art is as much entitled to the protection of 
 
 
9  The Senate Committee Report further notes that, though 
an invention may satisfy the broad standard of section 101, it is 
not patentable unless the other conditions of Title 35 are 
fulfilled. See section II, infra

15 
the law as a machine or manufacture.” Elaborating 
on the connection between the terms “art” and 
“process,” the Court further noted that “ ‘the term art 
applies . . . to all those cases where the result, effect, 
or manufactured article is old, but the invention 
consists in a new process or method of producing such 
result, effect, or manufacture.’ ” Id. (quoting GEORGE 
TICKNOR  CURTIS, A TREATISE  ON  THE  LAW  OF  PATENTS 
FOR USEFUL INVENTIONS (1849)).  
 
Twenty-five years later, the Court reaffirmed 
that a process which produces a useful result is 
patentable, regardless of the means by which it 
produces the result: 
[I]t is only useful arts – arts which may be 
used to advantage – that can be made the 
subject of a patent. . . . Thus, an art – 
process  – which is useful, is as much the 
subject of a patent as a machine, 
manufacture, or composition of matter. 
The Telephone Cases, 126 U.S. 1, 533 (1888) 
(emphasis added). In other words, a patentable 
process must achieve an advantageous result in the 
world. 
 
Most recently, the Court reaffirmed both the 
broad usefulness standard for patent eligibility and 
its applicability to process claims in Diamond v. 
Diehr, 450 U.S. 175 (1981): 
“It is for the discovery or invention of some 
practical method or means of producing a 
beneficial result or effect, that a patent is 

16 
granted, and not for the result or effect itself. 
It is when the term process is used to 
represent the means or method of producing 
a result that it is patentable, and it will 
include all methods or means which are not 
effected by mechanism or mechanical 
combinations.” 
Id. at 182, n.7 (quoting Corning v. Burden, 56 U.S. 
(15 How.) 252, 267-68 (1853)) (emphasis added). 
 
Of course, the Court has recognized certain 
exceptions to the scope of patentable subject matter. 
Abstract ideas, mathematical formulas, laws of 
nature, and natural phenomena are not proper 
subject matter for a patent. The Court has repeatedly 
held that section 101 precludes any claim that would 
wholly preempt such a fundamental principle. Funk 
Bros. Seed Co. v. Kalo Inoculant Co., 333 U.S. 127, 
130 (1948); Diehr, 450 U.S. at 185 (“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.”) (quoting Le Roy 
v. Tatham, 55 U.S. (14 How.) 156, 175 (1852)). 
 
These exclusions remain consistent with the 
usefulness requirement of the patent statute and its 
constitutional origins. Abstract ideas, mathematical 
formulas, laws of nature, and natural phenomena are 
not useful in isolation, and therefore, they are not 
patent-eligible subject matter. However, a practical 
application of such a principle, which provides a 
useful result in the world, satisfies the usefulness 
requirement.  Funk Bros., 333 U.S. at 130 (product 

17 
claim applying a law of nature to a new and useful 
end is patentable). 
 
The Court applied this principle equally to 
process claims in Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U.S. 63, 
67-68 (1972). The Court in Benson rejected a claim to 
the general idea of converting signals from binary-
coded decimal (“BCD”) form into pure binary form. Id. 
at 65. In practical effect, the Court held the claim to 
be directed simply to an abstract idea, the 
mathematical formula for converting from BCD form 
to binary form. Id. at 71-72. Likewise, in Parker v. 
Flook, 437 U.S. 584, 594 (1978), the Court rejected 
claims involving a mathematical formula, holding 
that they failed to recite an inventive application of 
the formula. 
 
The Court elaborated on these exclusions in 
Diehr
This Court has undoubtedly recognized 
limits to § 101 and every discovery is not 
embraced within the statutory terms. 
Excluded from such patent protection are 
laws of nature, natural phenomena, and 
abstract ideas. “An idea of itself is not 
patentable.” “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.” 
450 U.S. at 185 (internal citations omitted).  

18 
 The 
Diehr majority took pains to emphasize that 
the Court’s holdings in Benson and Flook “stand for 
no more than these long-established principles.” Id. 
Addressing each of the Benson and Flook decisions in 
detail, the Diehr majority explained why the claims 
in those cases were not patent-eligible. In each case, 
the applicant sought to patent a mathematical 
formula, which, “like a law of nature, . . . cannot be 
the subject of a patent.” Id. at 185-86. The issue did 
not turn on machines or transformation, but on 
usefulness and preemption of an abstract idea. 
 
These cases weave a common thread that patent 
eligibility does not extend to certain fundamental 
principles, including abstract ideas, laws of nature, 
and mathematical formulas. Nor does it depend on 
the statutory category or the type of technology. 
Rather, the cases reflect the Court’s understanding 
that the section 101 analysis of a process claim 
requires an open and flexible approach focused on 
practical applications that achieve useful results.  
 
II.  Sections 102, 103, and 112 – Not Section 
101 – Define the “Conditions and Require-
ments” for Patentability 
 
Some defenders of the Federal Circuit’s Bilski 
decision and the exclusive machine-or-transformation 
test will argue the test is necessary to prevent the 
issuance of plainly invalid patents. There have been 
examples of such patents in recent years – patents 
that never should have issued because they claim old 

19 
and well-known ideas, they claim more than the 
inventor actually invented, or they claim hopelessly 
vague or broad subject matter. Some believe that the 
machine-or-transformation test provides the means to 
eliminate such plainly invalid patents by summarily 
rejecting broad categories of process claims as patent 
ineligible. However, excluding entire categories of 
invention from statutory protection is improper. It 
undermines the patent system, discourages innova-
tion, and is contrary to long-established law.  
 
Section 101 simply provides “a general statement 
of the type of subject matter that is eligible for patent 
protection ‘subject to the conditions and requirements 
of this title.’ ”  Diehr, 450 U.S. at 189 (quoting § 101) 
(emphasis added). The more substantive require-
ments for whether a particular invention is novel 
(section 102) and nonobvious (section 103) stand 
“ ‘wholly apart from whether the invention falls into a 
category of statutory subject matter.’ ” Id. at 189-90 
(quoting  In re Bergy, 596 F.2d 952, 961 (C.C.P.A. 
1979)). 
 
The late Judge Giles Sutherland Rich, who co-
authored the Patent Act of 1952, described sections 
101, 102, and 103 as doors on the path to 
patentability, each requiring a separate key. Bergy
596 F.2d at 960-62. A claim directed to eligible subject 
matter satisfies section 101, but that alone will not 
justify issuance of a patent. The applicant still must 
provide the keys to sections 102 and 103. 

20 
 
Section “101 was never intended to be a 
‘standard of patentability’; the standards, or 
conditions as the statute calls them, are in § 102 and 
§ 103.” Bergy, 596 F.2d at 963. This is consistent with 
the legislative history accompanying the 1952 act, 
which explains “[s]ection 101 sets forth the subject 
matter that can be patented, ‘subject to the conditions 
and requirements of this title.’ The conditions under 
which a patent may be obtained follow, and Section 
102 covers the conditions relating to novelty.” S. REP. 
No. 82-1979, at 5 (1952), reprinted in 1952 
U.S.C.C.A.N. 2394, 2399.  
 
Thus, section 101 is not the proper vehicle for 
controlling the quality of patents. Rather, properly 
enforcing the novelty and nonobviousness 
requirements of sections 102 and 103 will prevent 
issuance of patents that claim old and well-known 
processes.  See Bergy, 596 F.2d at 960 (describing 
sections 102 and 103 as the second and third doors to 
patentability). 
 
Section 101 also is not intended to protect 
against overbroad or unsupported claims. Section 112 
provides these protections and serves as yet another 
door on the path to patentability, requiring that the 
inventor clearly describe and distinctly claim the 
invention. 35 U.S.C. § 112, ¶¶ 1, 2. Hence, if an 
inventor submits claims so broad or abstract as to 
improperly preempt activities outside the reasonable 
scope of the invention, that must be corrected by 
proper application of section 112, not section 101. 

21 
 
Although prior to the restructuring of the 1952 
Act, the Court’s 1853 analysis of Samuel Morse’s 
eighth patent claim perhaps more closely tracks 
modern-day section 112 than section 101. Morse, 56 
U.S. (15 How.) at 112-13. In Morse, the court held 
that “[w]e perceive no well-founded objection to the 
description which is given of the whole invention and 
its separate parts, nor to his right to a patent for the 
first seven inventions set forth in the specification of 
his claims. The difficulty arises on the eighth.” 56 
U.S. (15 How.) at 112 (emphasis added). The Court 
held that the eighth claim was too broad: 
In fine he claims an exclusive right to use a 
manner and process which he has not 
described and indeed had not invented, and 
therefore  could not describe when he 
obtained his patent. The court is of the 
opinion that the claim is too broad, and not 
warranted by law. 
Id. at 113 (emphasis added).10 Ultimately, Morse may 
be less about statutory subject matter, and more 
 
 
10 A review of Morse’s fifth claim illustrates the flaw in 
adopting an exclusive machine-or-transformation test: 
“the system of signs, consisting of dots and spaces, 
and horizontal lines, for numerals, letters, words or 
sentences, substantially as herein set forth and 
illustrated, for telegraphic purposes.”  
Morse, 56 U.S. (15 How.) at 86, 101. The subject matter of this 
claim, which the Court held to be patentable, is not tied to a 
particular machine, nor does it transform an article to a 
different state or thing.  

22 
about the scope of the claims compared with the 
underlying description of the invention. Since the 
1952 Act, courts analyze that issue under section 112 
in the form of written description and enablement. 
Section 112, not section 101, is the proper vehicle for 
preventing overbroad claims. 
 
Reliance on sections 102, 103, and 112 to control 
patent quality also addresses the concerns expressed 
in  Lab. Corp. of Am. Holdings v. Metabolite Labs., 
Inc., 126 S. Ct. 2921 (2006) (Breyer, J., dissenting 
from dismissal for improvidently granted review) 
about the harm to innovation that will occur if 
patents are too easily granted. As explained above, 
concerns about improvidently granted patents must 
be resolved by proper case-by-case and fact-specific 
application of the standards set out in sections 102, 
103, and 112, which define the “conditions and 
requirements” for patentability. Brusquely limiting 
the scope of eligible subject matter under section 101 
risks foreclosing valuable existing and unforeseeable 
future innovations; this is not a reasonable solution 
to the problem of improvidently granted patents. 
  
 

23 
III.  THE FEDERAL CIRCUIT’S RIGID RULE 
FOR PATENT ELIGIBILITY HAS NO 
REASONABLE BASIS 
 
Rigid application of the “machine-or-transformation” 
test as the sole standard for process patent eligibility 
disregards the Constitution, the plain words of the 
patent statute, and this Court’s interpretation of 
section 101. The Bilski majority has taken the 
Court’s flexible approach to section 101 and boiled 
it down to a single, unbending mantra that limits 
patentable processes to those that employ 
particular types of technology (specific machines or 
transformations of articles). As the sole means to 
determine patent eligibility for process claims, the 
machine-or-transformation test finds no basis in law. 
  The tools with which an invention is 
implemented may give some assurance or clue that 
the invention operates in the world, as it should, and 
is not just an abstract idea, but the usefulness of the 
invention provides the fundamental touchstone for 
patent eligibility. U.S. CONST., art. I, § 8, cl. 8; 35 
U.S.C. § 101. The limited machine-or-transformation 
test harkens back to the early 20th century, its words 
reminiscent of the “Machine Age,” when steel mills, 
automobile plants, and skyscrapers were in their 
heyday.11 Never before has a test for patent eligibility 
 
 
11  See  RICHARD  GUY  WILSON  ET  AL., THE  MACHINE  AGE  IN 
AMERICA 1918-1941 25 (1986). 

24 
reflected a particular age of history, much less a 
bygone era. 
 
A.  The Court Has Denounced Rigid Rules 
in Favor of More Flexible Approaches 
 
Throughout its patent law decisions, the Court 
has favored flexible, common-sense approaches over 
rigid, unbending rules. Patent eligibility under 
section 101 is no exception.  
 In 
Benson, the Court discussed the machine-or-
transformation test as the “clue” to patent eligibility. 
409 U.S. at 70. Indeed, the test provides a useful clue 
in that it demonstrates the invention was achieved by 
physical processes that are not in themselves 
abstract. At the same time, the Court explicitly 
declined to establish this test as the one and only 
path to process patent eligibility. Id. at 71. The focus 
remained, as it has been for more than two hundred 
years, on whether the claim was directed to a useful 
application of an abstract idea as opposed to the 
underlying idea itself. Id. at 71-72.  
 
The Court rejected the claims in Flook, as in 
Benson, because they were directed to abstract 
mathematical formulas. Id.;  Flook, 437 U.S. at 594. 
By contrast, the applicant in Diehr did not seek to 
patent an abstract idea. 450 U.S. at 187. The majority 
in  Diehr considered the machine-or-transformation 
test, and it included Benson’s “clue” quote, id. at 184, 
but its focus remained on the broader question of 

25 
whether the claim at issue was directed to a useful 
process. Id. at 185-92; see also section I.C, supra.  
 
In the 28 years since Diehr, the Court has not 
revisited section 101. Yet, the Court’s recent decisions 
on other patent issues maintain the same practical 
preference for flexible, common-sense analyses over 
unbending, bright-line rules. Rigid rules may be 
easier to apply, but the Court has repeatedly rejected 
such shortcuts in patent cases. 
 
The Court emphasized the importance of the 
flexible approach to patent law in KSR Int’l Co. v. 
Teleflex Inc., 550 U.S. 398 (2007). There, the Court 
rejected the Federal Circuit’s rigid “teaching, 
suggestion or motivation (TSM)” test as the sole test 
for obviousness under section 103. Id. at 407, 415. 
The unanimous Court explained that section 103 
“must not be confined within a test or formulation too 
constrained to serve its purpose.” Id. at 427.  
 
In another recent case, Festo Corp. v. Shoketsu 
Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki Co., 535 U.S. 722 (2002), 
the Court rejected the Federal Circuit’s “complete bar 
test,” an unbending approach to the doctrine of 
prosecution history estoppel. Again speaking 
unanimously, the Court cautioned, “we have 
consistently applied the doctrine in a flexible way, not 
a rigid one.” Id. at 738. 
 
In its most recent patent decision, the Court 
rejected an inflexible rule excluding method claims 
from the doctrine of patent exhaustion. Quanta 
Computer, Inc. v. LG Elecs., Inc., 128 S. Ct. 2109 

26 
(2008). The unanimous Court noted, “[o]ur precedents 
do not differentiate transactions involving 
embodiments of patented methods or processes from 
those involving patented apparatuses or materials.” 
Id. at 2117. The Federal Circuit had erred by rigidly 
limiting patent exhaustion to apparatus claims. Id. at 
2117-18. This Court concluded that the patent 
exhaustion analysis for a process claim depends on 
the facts of the particular case, just as it does for an 
apparatus claim. Id. at 2118. 
 As 
in 
Quanta, the Federal Circuit’s decision in 
Bilski  to treat process claims differently from 
apparatus claims by establishing its rigid machine-or-
transformation test improperly restricts the scope of 
patent eligibility established in section 101. 
 
B. The Federal Circuit Departs from the 
Court’s Flexible Approach to Section 101 
 
The Federal Circuit’s new interpretation of 
section 101 directly conflicts with the Court’s 
controlling decisions. The Court has never held the 
machine-or-transformation test to be the sole 
standard of process patent eligibility. See,  e.g., 
Benson, 409 U.S. at 71 (declining to hold that no 
process patent could ever qualify if it does not satisfy 
the machine-or-transformation test). Bilski  is yet 
another example of the Federal Circuit departing 
from the Court’s established, flexible approach in 
favor of a rigid, bright-line rule. 

27 
 The 
Bilski majority relied heavily on its 
particular interpretation of BensonFlook, and Diehr
Indeed, as discussed above, the Court considered the 
machine-or-transformation test in each of these three 
cases. The Federal Circuit’s mistake, however, was 
adopting this as the only test for process patent 
eligibility. Rather, the Court has consistently held the 
machine-or-transformation test as only an example of 
how a process may satisfy section 101’s usefulness 
requirement. Rather than dictating one particular 
rigid and age-anchored test, the Court’s section 101 
decisions consistently require a flexible patent 
eligibility analysis that adapts to new inventions that 
achieve useful results: 
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
Benson, 409 U.S. at 71 (emphasis added).  
 
Nor did the Court in Flook  establish the 
machine-or-transformation test as the touchstone of 
patent eligibility. Indeed, the Flook  Court noted that 
“[t]he line between a patentable ‘process’ and an 
unpatentable ‘principle’ is not always clear. Both are 
‘conception[s] of the mind, seen only by [their] effects 
when being executed or performed.’ ” 437 U.S. at 589 
(quoting  Tilghman v. Proctor, 102 U.S. 707, 728 
(1880)). This hardly supports the exclusive and 

28 
inflexible rule the Federal Circuit has now imposed. 
Rather, it again demonstrates that the practical 
application of the invention, its “effects when being 
executed or performed,” is key to differentiating an 
un-patentable abstract idea from a useful and patent-
eligible process. Id. 
 The 
Bilski majority focuses on one particular 
sentence in a footnote of the Flook opinion: “[a]n 
argument can be made [that the Supreme] Court has 
only recognized a process as within the statutory 
definition when it either was tied to a particular 
apparatus or operated to change materials to a 
‘different state or thing.’ ” Bilski, 545 F.3d at 979-80 
(quoting  Flook, 437 U.S. at 589 n.9). However, the 
Court squarely rejected that interpretation in the 
next sentence: “[a]s 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.” 
Flook, 437 U.S. at 589 n.9 (emphasis added). 
 
In its analysis of Diehr, the Federal Circuit again 
focused too narrowly on the machine-or-transformation 
test as the only “clue” to patent eligibility. Bilski, 545 
F.3d at 956 (quoting Diehr, 450 U.S. at 184). In doing 
so, the Federal Circuit missed the broader, flexible 
approach that the majority applied in Diehr – the 
same approach the Court had used in Benson and 
Flook
 
 

29 
 
The majority in Diehr described the machine-or-
transformation test, not as the  test for patent 
eligibility, but as one example of such a test: 
when a claim containing a mathematical 
formula implements or applies that formula 
in a structure or process which, when 
considered as a whole, is performing a 
function which the patent laws were 
designed to protect (e.g., transforming or 
reducing an article to a different state or 
thing), then the claim satisfies the 
requirements of § 101. 
Diehr, 450 U.S. at 192 (emphasis added). The “e.g.” in 
this passage demonstrates that the machine-or-
transformation test is just an example, not an 
exclusive test. 
 
The remainder of the Diehr opinion reaffirms this 
distinction. If the machine-or-transformation test had 
been the touchstone of patent eligibility, the majority 
could have ended its opinion after section II. See 
Diehr, 450 U.S. at 184. Instead, the Diehr  majority 
continued with sections III and IV, analyzing the 
claim in detail to determine whether it improperly 
covered an abstract mathematical formula or 
properly covered a practical application of the 
formula to a new and useful end. Id. at 185-92. 
 
None of the Court’s decisions have turned on a 
rigid application of the machine-or-transformation 
test. Indeed, this test may have guided the Court in 
Benson and Diehr, but the Court has never adopted it 

30 
as the one and only standard for process patent 
eligibility.12 Rather than following this Court’s guid-
ance, the Bilski decision has disregarded precedent. 
In the face of not only the Benson,  Flook, and Diehr 
decisions, but also the Court’s more recent rejections 
of narrow rules in KSR and Festo, the Federal Circuit 
in Bilski adopted yet another rigid rule.  
 
C. The Federal Circuit Ignores Recent 
Congressional Action Embracing the 
Flexible Approach to Section 101 
 
The Federal Circuit’s decision to require a rigid 
machine-or-transformation test also ignores the 
intent of Congress, as expressed in the legislative 
history of 35 U.S.C. § 
273. In the immediate 
aftermath of State St. Bank & Trust Co. v. Signature 
 
 
 
 
12 The Federal Circuit’s view of this Court’s decisions is 
curious and disturbing. The Federal Circuit noted that the Court 
was “equivocal” in the Benson and Flook decisions when it 
expressly declined to hold that no process could ever be 
patentable without satisfying the machine-or-transformation 
test. Bilski, 545 F.3d at 956. The Federal Circuit reasoned, “this 
caveat was not repeated in Diehr when the Court reaffirmed the 
machine-or-transformation test.” Id.  (emphasis in original). 
Under the Federal Circuit’s logic, the Court must repeat every 
caveat in every subsequent opinion to ensure lower courts do not 
interpret the Court’s silence as overruling its previous decision. 
Such analysis also ignores the Court’s use of the “e.g.” signal in 
Diehr, which was consistent with the express holdings and 
flexible analysis in Benson and Flook

31 
Fin. Group, Inc., 149 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 1998), 
Congress enacted section 273 to limit liability for 
infringement of a business method patent by a prior 
inventor. Congress dealt with this enforcement issue 
by passing narrowly drawn legislation that did not 
limit the scope of patent eligibility for business 
methods. Indeed, Congress explicitly recognized the 
eligibility of business methods for patent protection. 
See 35 U.S.C. §§ 273(a)(3), 273(b)(1). The majority 
opinion in Bilski makes no mention of this 
Congressional action, let alone wrestles with its 
implications. 
 
Important for purposes of the present case, 
Congress acknowledged and embraced the Federal 
Circuit’s prior, reasoned “usefulness” test for patent 
eligibility, from State Street Bank. That test mirrored 
this Court’s long-standing flexible approach to patent 
eligible subject matter. See State St. Bank, 149 F.3d 
at 1373 (“Unpatentable mathematical algorithms are 
identifiable by showing they are merely abstract 
ideas constituting disembodied concepts or truths 
that are not ‘useful.’ From a practical standpoint, this 
means that to be patentable an algorithm must be 
applied in a ‘useful’ way.”) (emphasis added). At that 
time, the Federal Circuit noted that “[i]t is improper 
to read limitations into § 101 on the subject matter 
that may be patented where the legislative history 

32 
indicates that Congress clearly did not intend such 
limitations.” Id.13 
 
When it enacted section 273, Congress embraced 
this flexible approach in its Joint Conference report 
as the “essential question” of patent eligibility. H.R. 
CONF. REP. No. 106-464, at 122 (1999). It is ironic that 
the Federal Circuit has now abandoned this test, less 
than ten years after crafting it to mirror the Court’s 
precedent and receiving Congressional approval.14 
 
 
13 The Federal Circuit’s now-abandoned usefulness test 
(referred to as the “useful, concrete, and tangible result” test) 
compactly summarizes the appropriate boundary between 
abstract idea and useful application. “Usefulness” is the core 
constitutional and statutory test. The Federal Circuit added 
“concrete” and “tangible” modifiers to its formulation. Though 
not expressed in the statute, the Federal Circuit may have 
added these modifiers to note that the application must be 
reasonably specific and occur in the world and not, for example, 
solely in one’s mind. These principles are bound up in the 
statutory meaning of “useful.” 
 
14 When it enacted section 273, Congress accepted and 
embraced a variety of patentable methods and processes, many 
of which would fail the new machine-or-transformation test: 
In order to protect inventors and to encourage proper 
disclosure, this subtitle focuses on methods for doing 
and conducting business, including methods used 
with internal commercial operations as well as those 
used in connection with the sale or transfer of useful 
end results – whether in the form of physical 
products,  or in the form of services,  or in the form 
of some other useful results; for example, results 
produced through the manipulation of data or other 
inputs to produce a useful result.  
H.R. CONF. REP. NO. 106-464, at 122 (emphasis added). 

33 
IV. THE 
“MACHINE-OR-TRANSFORMATION” 
TEST IS NOT A RELIABLE INDICATOR 
OF USEFULNESS 
 
In effect, the Federal Circuit’s Bilski decision 
excludes many useful business-related processes from 
patent eligibility. These innovative methods, though 
useful, are not tied to any particular machine and do 
not transform any article to a different state or thing. 
Yet, in today’s information economy, these methods 
demonstrate their usefulness in many ways.15 
Wholesale prohibition of patent applications for 
business-related methods, regardless of whether they 
satisfy the requirements of sections 102, 103, and 
112, runs counter to the founders’ mandate to 
promote the useful arts – the very foundation of our 
patent system.16 
 
 
15 The “traveling salesman problem” (TSP) provides a 
helpful example. The TSP is an abstract idea in combinatorial 
optimization.  See  DAVID L. APPLEGATE  ET  AL., THE  TRAVELLING 
SALESMAN: A COMPUTATIONAL  STUDY (Princeton University Press 
2006). The idea is to identify the shortest possible route that 
enables a salesman to visit each of a list of cities only once, given 
the distance between each pair of cities. Engineers have 
developed practical and useful applications of the TSP to 
optimize delivery and service routing, microchip manufacturing, 
and genome sequencing, to name a few of the myriad of useful 
applications. 
 
16  Ironically, the machine-or-transformation test is not only 
under-inclusive, but also over-inclusive. Some processes 
involving machines are not useful at all. The Manual of Patent 
Examining Procedure instructs PTO examiners to reject claims 
directed to perpetual motion under section 101 because the 
intended result is physically impossible and therefore lacks 
(Continued on following page) 

34 
A. Useful 
Processes 
May 
or May Not Be Tied 
to a Machine or Transform an Article 
 
Innovative, useful processes thrive in many areas 
beyond the “traditional” scientific and engineering 
fields. To remain competitive in today’s information 
economy, companies and governments rely on new 
and useful business processes, whether as methods 
for managing organizations of people; as processes 
provided through software, internet, and computer 
interfaces; or as other innovative methods of 
promoting their business ends. Business processes 
affect the activities of both people and organizations 
by applying scientific, mathematical, and engineering 
principles to achieve practical results, operating on 
real entities in the world. 
 The 
amici curiae develop innovative processes 
that benefit businesses and governments every day. 
For example, Accenture has developed and 
implemented supply chain systems that manage 
transportation logistics for moving products from 
manufacturing sites to retail stores. In the huge and 
growing industry of business process outsourcing, 
Accenture has automated management reporting 
methods for outsourced business operations. 
Accenture also has integrated telecommunications 
 
 
 
utility. MPEP § 
706.03(a)(II). Thus, even if it involves a 
machine, a process intended to achieve perpetual motion is still 
not patent-eligible because it lacks utility; it simply cannot be 
useful under section 101. 

35 
services for cable, telephone and the Internet, all 
operating together with enhanced capabilities and 
convenience. 
 
Pitney Bowes operates as a leader in an industry 
that manages the flow of information, mail, docu-
ments, and packages to customers worldwide. To 
maintain its leadership role, Pitney Bowes constantly 
innovates and invents in such areas as secure funds 
transactions, data management, and material han-
dling workflow processes, providing improvements in 
productivity, efficiency, and security. 
 
These innovations are not exhaustive, but they 
demonstrate that Accenture and Pitney Bowes are 
not in the business of promoting abstract ideas. Each 
and every one of these processes and hundreds of 
others provide economic value and advantage in the 
world, though they often require neither machine nor 
transformation. 
 
Many of the processes that Accenture and Pitney 
Bowes develop come from a field known as industrial 
engineering, which has a long history of process 
innovation. Broadly speaking, industrial engineering 
involves the practical application of mathematics, 
logic, economics, operations research, engineering, 
and social sciences to improve the operations of 
integrated systems in industry, finance, and business 
management. 
 
 

36 
 
The American Institute of Industrial Engineers 
defines “industrial engineering” as: 
concerned with the design, improvement and 
installation of integrated systems of people, 
materials, equipment and energy. It draws 
upon specialized knowledge and skill in the 
mathematical, physical and social sciences 
together with the principles and methods of 
engineering analysis and design to specify, 
predict and evaluate the results to be 
obtained from such systems. 
GAVRIEL  SALENDY, HANDBOOK  OF  INDUSTRIAL  ENGI-
NEERING 5 (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 3d ed. 2001). 
 
Industrial engineers focus their applied scientific, 
mathematical, and engineering improvements upon 
systems of human organizations (“enterprises”), which 
can be anything from a single person’s activity to a 
larger corporate, nonprofit, or governmental organi-
zation. “[T]he systems designed by industrial engi-
neers  involve people as basic components.” WAYNE C. 
TURNER  ET  AL., INTRODUCTION  TO  INDUSTRIAL  AND  SYS-
TEMS  ENGINEERING 3 (Prentice Hall, 3d ed. 1993) 
(hereinafter “INTRODUCTION  TO  INDUSTRIAL  AND  SYS-
TEMS  ENGINEERING”) (emphasis added). The PTO has 
long accepted “industrial engineering” as a “recog-
nized technical subject” for eligibility to become a 
patent attorney. See U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, 
General Requirements Bulletin for Admission to the 
Examination for Registration to Practice in Patent 
 
 

37 
Cases Before the United States Patent and Trade-
mark Office (Jan. 2008) http://www.uspto.gov/web/ 
offices/dcom/olia/oed/grb.pdf.  
  Advances in industrial engineering have 
produced countless useful processes, many of which 
are not tied to a particular machine and do not 
transform any article to a different state or thing. See 
INTRODUCTION 
TO 
INDUSTRIAL 
AND 
SYSTEMS 
ENGINEERING at 13-15; ADEDEJI B. BADIRU, HANDBOOK 
OF  INDUSTRIAL  AND  SYSTEMS  ENGINEERING 4-8 (Taylor 
& Francis Group 2006) (describing the development 
of industrial and systems engineering from the year 
1440 to the present). Yet, the unquestioned economic 
progress that these innovative, practical applications 
of science and engineering to business organizations 
and processes has produced, especially for the United 
States, underscores its importance to the “[p]rogress 
of . . . useful [a]rts,” U.S. CONST. art. I, § 8, cl. 8.  
  The Federal Circuit’s new machine or 
transformation test risks making these particular, 
practical fruits of human progress uniquely un-
patentable. But neither the patent statute nor this 
Court require that result. So long as the steps of a 
new and useful business-related method taken as a 
whole represent more than just an abstract principle, 
the business-related method should be eligible for 
patent protection under section 101. If the process 
further satisfies the conditions and requirements of 
sections 102, 103, and 112, then its inventor should 
be granted a patent for the invention. 

38 
B.  The “Machine-or-Transformation” Test 
Forecloses Useful Innovation Well 
Beyond the Bilski Claims 
 
The Bilski patent application discloses and 
claims a process for reducing risk in hedge fund 
transactions, including transactions between sepa-
rate market participants. Although the Federal Cir-
cuit rejected the Bilski claims for not satisfying the 
machine-or-transformation test, the claims appear to 
recite a specific and useful application of a hedging 
process between market participants in the world.17 
 
The management of risk and optimization of 
financial reward is an essential part of the modern 
economy. If a process provides a beneficial way of 
managing risk, then it is useful regardless of whether 
it employs a machine or transformation. Accenture 
operates in an industry that requires very sophisti-
cated analyses of risks and rewards across a range of 
businesses, including insurance claim analysis, en-
ergy commodities transactions, and credit risk man-
agement, among others. Accenture develops and sells 
management and control processes in these indus-
tries against considerable competition worldwide. 
 
 
17 Whether the Bilski claims satisfy the other conditions 
and requirements for patentability, including novelty, non-
obviousness, enablement, and definiteness, should be considered 
under sections 102, 103, and 112, not section 101. See section II, 
supra. Moreover, whether the Bilski claims are patentable at the 
end of examination is irrelevant for purposes of identifying the 
correct process patent eligibility standard. 

39 
Accenture’s new and useful inventions enhance 
productivity, efficiency, and income for its clients. 
Pitney Bowes’ developments in the areas of secure 
funds transactions, material handling processing, and 
data management provide similar benefits and 
advantages. Yet, these useful results frequently can 
be achieved with processes that do not require any 
particular machine or transformation of matter.  
 
The exclusive machine-or-transformation test 
also forecloses patent protection for other broad 
categories of cutting edge innovation. The modern 
software, financial, and life science industries, among 
others, all rely on process patents to protect their 
investment in research and development. Section 101 
embraces these 21st century processes, which employ 
useful, specific applications of general principles, and 
yet frequently do not involve particular machines or 
material transformations. As the Court has 
acknowledged, neither it nor Congress intends to 
“freeze process patents to old technologies, leaving no 
room for the revelations of the new, onrushing 
technology.” Benson, 409 U.S. at 71. 
----------------- ♦ ----------------- 
 
 
 

40 
CONCLUSION 
 
For the foregoing reasons, Accenture and Pitney 
Bowes respectfully request that the Court preserve 
broad access to the U.S. patent system by reaffirming 
the flexible “usefulness” test, including the 
prohibition on patenting abstract ideas, natural 
phenomena, and laws of nature. 
Respectfully submitted, 
WAYNE P. SOBON 
MEREDITH MARTIN ADDY
ACCENTURE 
  Counsel of Record 
50 W. San Fernando St. 
JOEL W. BENSON 
Suite 1200 
CHARLES M. MCMAHON 
San Jose, CA 95113 
BRINKS HOFER GILSON & LIONE
(408) 817-2170 
455 N. Cityfront Plaza Dr. 
Chicago, IL 60611 
STEVEN J. SHAPIRO 
(312) 321-4200 
PITNEY BOWES INC. 
35 Waterview Dr. 
Shelton, CT 06484 
(203) 924-3880 
Counsel for Amici Curiae 
Accenture & Pitney Bowes