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 AMICUS CURIAE
TELECOMMUNICATION SYSTEMS, INC. IN
SUPPORT OF NEITHER PARTY AND FOR PURELY
PROSPECTIVE APPLICATION OF ANY ADOPTION
OF THE NEW LEGAL TEST APPLIED BELOW
ROBERT P. GREENSPOON
Counsel of Record
WILLIAM W. FLACHSBART
FLACHSBART & GREENSPOON, LLC
53 W. JACKSON BLVD, STE 652
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 60604
Attorneys for Amicus Curiae
LEGAL PRINTERS  LLC, Washington DC !   202-747-2400 !   legalprinters.com

TABLE OF CONTENTS 
 
 
STATEMENT OF  
INTEREST OF AMICUS CURIAE ........................... 1 
SUMMARY OF THE ARGUMENT ...........................  3 
ARGUMENT .............................................................. 4 
I. INTRODUCTION  ........................................... 4 
II. LEGAL 
STANDARDS .....................................  8 
III.  THIS COURT NEVER HELD THE 
“MACHINE OR TRANSFORMATION” 
TEST TO BE THE “DEFINITIVE TEST” 
OF PATENT-ELIGIBILITY OF 
PROCESSES ................................................... 9 
IV. 
THE NEW TEST CONFLICTS WITH THE 
HISTORICAL PURPOSES OF § 101 OF 
THE PATENT ACT ....................................... 14 
V.  IT WOULD BE INEQUITABLE TO 
ALLOW RETROACTIVE APPLICATION 
OF ANY AFFIRMANCE ............................... 15 
CONCLUSION .........................................................  18 
 


TABLE OF AUTHORITIES 
Cases 
 Chevron Oil Co. v. Huson,  
  404 U.S. 97 (1971) ......................................... passim 
Cochrane v. Deener, 94 U.S. 780 (1876) .................... 9 
Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303  
 (1980) 
................................................................ 
6, 
14 
Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175 (1981) ......... 9, 10, 14 
Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186 (2003) .................. 18 
Festo Corp. v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki 
Co., Ltd., 535 U.S. 722 (2002) .................... 5, 15, 18 
Glazner v. Glazner, 347 F.3d 1212 (11th Cir. 2003) .. 9 
Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U.S. 63 (1972) ... 3, 6, 9, 10 
Harper v. Virginia Dept. of Taxation, 509 U.S. 86 
(1993) ...................................................................... 8 
Hartford-Empire Co. v. United States, 323 U.S. 386 
(1945) .................................................................... 16 
Hollister v. Benedict & Burnham Mfg. Co., 113 U.S. 
59 (1885)................................................................ 17 
Hughes v. Washington, 389 U.S. 290 (1967)........... 17 
In re Bilski, 545 F.3d 943 (Fed. Cir. 2008) ....... passim 
Parker v. Flook, 437 U.S. 584 (1978) ...................... 10 
Pfaff v. Wells Electronics, Inc., 525 U.S. 55 (1998)  15 
Warner-Jenkinson, Inc. v. Hilton Davis Chem. Co., 
520 U.S. 17 (1997) ............................................ 5, 18 
Webb’s Fabulous Pharmacies, Inc. v. Beckwith, 449 
U.S. 155 (1980) ..................................................... 17 
William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Bldg. Co. v. 
Int’l Curtis Marine Turbine Co., 246 U.S. 28 
(1918) .................................................................... 17 
 
 
ii 

Statutes and Legislative Materials 
 
35 U.S.C. § 101 .............................. 2, 3, 4, 6, 12, 14, 15 
35 U.S.C. § 261 ......................................................... 16 
H.R. Rep. No. 1923, 82d Cong., 2d Sess., 6 (1952) .... 6 
S. Rep. No. 1979, 82d Cong., 2d Sess., 5 (1952) ........ 6 
Briefs and Other Authorities 
 Brief of Amicus Curiae American Intellectual 
Property Law Association in Support of the 
Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (No. 08-964) ...... 14 
MPEP § 2105 (4th Ed. 3rd Rev., July 1980) ........ 11, 12 
USPTO Official Gazette Notices 22 November  
2005 .......................................................................... 13 
Wayne P. Sobon and Erika H. Arner, “In re Bilski: 
19th Century Thinking for 21st Century 
Challenges,” Landslide, Volume 1, Number 3, 
January/February 2009 ..........................................  7 
 
iii 


STATEMENT OF INTEREST OF AMICUS CURIAE 
 
TeleCommunication Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: 
TSYS) (hereafter, “TCS”) is a high technology 
corporation holding a diverse portfolio of patents and 
other intellectual property rights.1  TCS is a leading 
provider of wireless communication technology.  TCS 
holds 85 patents, most in the United States, with 
230 applications pending.  Based in Maryland, TCS 
has almost 650 employees.  TCS technologies 
include, among many others, lifesaving E911 
location systems – equipment that allows first 
responders to pinpoint the location of emergency 911 
wireless calls. 
 
Such lifesaving innovations would not have 
been possible without a predictable, reliable patent 
system.  In order to achieve its growth and 
commercial success, TCS has relied on a strong 
United States patent system.  Numerous TCS 
patents have been infringed over the years.  In 2009, 
the Eastern District of Virginia issued judgment for 
TCS on a jury verdict holding that Sybase 365, 
another messaging technology company, infringed 
its U.S. Patent No. 6,985,748 (Civil Action No. 3:06-
CV-485 (JRS), now on appeal).  The innovations in 
the ‘748 patent make it easier for individuals to send 
SMS text messages to each other.  In late 2008 and 
throughout 2009, TCS began seeking compensation 
                                                 
1 Under Supreme Court Rule 37.6, we state that no part of this 
brief was authored by counsel for any party, and no person or 
entity other than the amicus curiae filing this brief made a 
monetary contribution to the preparation or submission of the 
brief.  The brief is filed with the consent of the parties, and 
copies of the consent letters have been filed with the Clerk. 


for widespread infringement of two different patents 
– U.S. Patent Nos. 6,891,811 and 7,355,990.  The 
innovations in the ‘811 and ‘990 patents allow 
wireless subscribers to send text messages to 
computers on the World Wide Web, and receive 
automated return messages.   
 
TCS has witnessed firsthand the mischief 
caused by the new patent-eligibility legal standards 
announced by the Court of Appeals for the Federal 
Circuit.  Though TCS is a technology company and 
has not sought to patent financial services 
inventions like the ones invented by Messrs. Bilski 
and Warsaw, TCS’s detractors seek to use the 
holdings of In re Bilski, 545 F.3d 943 (Fed. Cir. 
2008), to devalue and attack TCS’s investment-
backed intellectual property rights.  For example, 
TCS recently became a defendant in a civil action an 
infringer filed to invalidate the widely-infringed ‘811 
and ‘990 patents (Newegg Inc. v. 
TeleCommunication Systems, Inc., Civil Action No. 
CV-09-0982 (JL) (N.D. Cal.)).   
In paragraphs 20 and 29 of that Declaratory 
Judgment Complaint (Dkt. No. 1), the plaintiff 
alleges that TCS’s ‘811 and ‘990 patents are invalid 
as directed to “nonstatutory subject matter under 35 
U.S.C. § 101.”  TCS believes this sort of declaratory 
judgment count would have been unthinkable 
against a high technology patent before Bilski. At 
least one other infringer during 2009 cited Bilski to 
lend a pretext to its refusal to pay royalties.  Thus, 
even though TCS’s ‘811 and ‘990 patents claim 
innovations related to “gateways” (i.e., “machines” 


that would clearly pass the Bilski “machine or 
transformation” test), the Bilski decision has 
emboldened copyists to urge expansion of its 
holdings even further.  Though the lower court did 
not intend to weaken the patent rights of pure 
technology companies who rely on the patent system 
to backstop investments in lifesaving technologies, 
one of its unintended results has been to change the 
“reality on the ground.”  Bilski has inspired copyists 
to free-ride on the hard work and investments of 
others.  TCS takes no sides in filing this brief, but 
simply urges the Court to minimize the damage to 
the innovation and investment community that 
might be caused by endorsing the new legal 
standards wrought below. 
SUMMARY OF THE ARGUMENT 
 
This nation’s technological leadership relies 
on a predictable, enforceable patent system.  The 
lower court’s Bilski decision threatens predictability, 
because its newly announced limitations on the 
standards of patent-eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101 
contradict this Court’s holding in Gottschalk v. 
Benson, 409 U.S. 63, 71 (1972).  If this Court decides 
to overrule Benson in this regard, it should do so 
under the framework the Court laid out in Chevron 
Oil Co. v. Huson, 404 U.S. 97, 106-07 (1971) – that 
is, make any such holding purely prospective. 


ARGUMENT 
I. INTRODUCTION 
 In 
Bilski, the Federal Circuit majority applied 
a new test for process patent eligibility, holding a 
claimed process must be tied to a particular machine 
or apparatus, or transform an article into a 
particular state or thing (the “machine or 
transformation” test). In re Bilski, 545 F.3d 943, 954 
(Fed. Cir. 2008). Judge Newman’s dissent states that 
this Court’s precedents require a different test: that 
a claimed process simply must not as a whole 
embody a law of nature, natural phenomenon, or 
abstract idea.2  Id. at 977 (Newman, J., dissenting).  
Necessarily, more inventions are eligible for patent 
protection under the test Judge Newman gleaned 
from this Court’s precedents.  Both the majority and 
Judge Newman claimed to divine their tests from 
this Court’s interpretations of 35 U.S.C. § 101, 
codified within the Patent Act of 1952.  This Court 
will now decide which test is correct.  This brief does 
not address that question. 
Instead, this brief points out that Judge 
Newman’s views (not that of the majority) have been 
the prevailing belief within the innovation and 
investment community since the dawn of the 
biotechnology and information technology revolution.  
They have also been the views applied by the United 
States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 
granting millions of patents over the past three 
                                                 
2 Judge Rader’s separate dissent makes similar points.  But for 
simplicity, this brief will refer just to Judge Newman’s dissent. 


decades.  The majority’s holding – a test requiring a 
process to embody a machine or transformation – 
upsets decades-old expectations of what the law is.  
To borrow Justice Ginsburg’s words from a recent 
decision declining to limit patent rights in another 
context, the new Bilski rules “unfairly discount the 
expectations of a patentee who had no notice at the 
time of patent prosecution that such [rules] would 
apply.”  Warner-Jenkinson, Inc. v. Hilton Davis 
Chem. Co., 520 U.S. 17, 41 (1997) (Ginsburg, J., 
concurring).   
As when it decided Warner-Jenkinson  (id. at 
28) and Festo Corp. v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo 
Kabushiki Co., Ltd., 535 U.S. 722, 739-40 (2002), 
this Court should again give thoughtful 
consideration to the effect of the lower court’s newly-
announced “definitive test” on the reasonable 
expectations of the innovation and investment 
community.  “Fundamental alterations in these rules 
risk destroying the legitimate expectations of 
inventors in their property.” Id., 535 U.S. at 739.  
Here, property rights received under the old patent-
eligibility test (the one Judge Newman identified) 
risk being forfeited and taken without due process of 
law or just compensation.  Limiting any affirmance 
to prospective application only would quell such 
concerns. 
 Affirming Bilski’s “machine or 
transformation” test would represent a break from 
clear past precedent, would conflict with the 
historical purpose behind the statutory provisions 
for patent eligibility, and would impose great 


inequity, injustice and hardship if there were 
retroactive application. Therefore, if this Court 
affirms the “machine or transformation” test as the 
touchstone vel non of patent eligibility for processes 
under 35 U.S.C. § 101, it should apply that holding 
only prospectively under this Court’s Chevron Oil 
framework.3    In  summary,  the  Chevron Oil factors 
apply for the following reasons: 
•  Break from Precedent (the first Chevron Oil 
factor): The Federal Circuit made “machine or 
transformation” the “definitive test” – whereas 
this Court in Benson, 409 U.S. at 71, 
expressly refused to issue such a holding. Id. 
(stating “We do not hold [this].”).  Affirmance 
of this as the “definitive test” would amount to 
the Court overruling this aspect of Benson. 
 
•  Conflict with Historical Purposes (the second 
Chevron Oil factor): Congress indicated the 
purpose of § 101 of the Patent Act is to make 
“anything under the sun that is made by man” 
eligible for patenting, while allowing other 
sections of the Patent Act to serve the role of 
determining actual patentability (novelty, 
inventiveness, descriptiveness, enablement, 
etc.).  Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303, 
308-09 (1980) (citing S. Rep. No. 1979, 82d 
Cong., 2d Sess., 5 (1952); H.R. Rep. No. 1923, 
82d Cong., 2d Sess., 6 (1952)).  Congress used 
clear, broad terminology in § 101 to effect this 
purpose, modifying the statutory language 
with the comprehensive word “any.” Id. A 
                                                 
3 Chevron Oil Co. v. Huson, 404 U.S. 97, 106-07 (1971). 


holding that effectively qualifies such 
statutory language by interpreting implicit 
limitations into it (e.g., the “machine or 
transformation” test) would counter such 
purposes. 
 
•  Inequity (the third Chevron Oil factor): 
Affirmance of “machine or transformation” as 
the “definitive test” for process patent 
eligibility would amount to an unprecedented 
massive government taking of personal 
property without due process or just 
compensation.  One need look no further than 
the USPTO’s own classification system to 
realize that “Business Methods” (the category 
most likely to involve non-machine, non-
transformative processes) encompass an 
entire class of inventions currently examined 
by the USPTO (Class 705).  Scholars and 
commentators have noted the sea change 
brought on by this new rule, including its 
ability to vitiate an entire class of inventions 
until now believed patent-eligible. E.g., Wayne 
P. Sobon and Erika H. Arner, “In re Bilski: 
19th Century Thinking for 21st Century 
Challenges,” Landslide, Volume 1, Number 3, 
January/February 2009 (published by the 
ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law).4   
                                                 
4 Sobon & Arner state in the cited article that to date, more 
than 15,000 patents have issued in Class 705 (Business 
Methods).  They  conclude that Bilski “fashioned a rigid, 
absolute rule for the patentability of processes, a rule better 
suited for the days of buggy manufacturers and leather dyers 
than the modern world of information and services,” such that 
it “stunningly and simply ignored the clear will of Congress, a 


 
II. LEGAL 
STANDARDS 
 
Three factors guide whether a judicial decision 
should have a purely prospective effect: (1) whether 
the decision to be applied establishes a new principle 
of law, (2) whether retroactive application of the 
decision serves the purpose and effect of the decision, 
and (3) whether substantially inequitable results 
would ensue if the decision were applied 
retroactively.  See  Chevron Oil Co. v. Huson, 404 
U.S. 97, 106-07 (1971).  This Court in Harper v. 
Virginia Dept. of Taxation, 509 U.S. 86, 97 (1993) 
abandoned selective prospectivity, holding that when 
it “applies a rule of federal law to the parties before 
it, that rule is the controlling interpretation of 
federal law and must be given full retroactive 
effect...” (emphasis added).  However, the issue here 
is whether the Bilski holding that “machine of 
transformation” is the “definitive test” for process 
patent eligibility should be given purely prospective 
effect.  Justice O’Connor noted that “the question of 
pure prospectivity [was] not implicated by [Harper].” 
Id. at 116 (O’Connor, J. dissenting).  Thus, even after 
Harper, this Court has not foreclosed applying a 
decision in a purely prospective manner if the 
Chevron Oil factors are present. See  Glazner v. 
Glazner, 347 F.3d 1212, 1216-19 (11th Cir. 2003) 
                                                                                                    
Congress that adapted the patent code in response to State 
Street Bank to carefully balance competing policy interests. . . .”  
They sum up that “Bilski is wrongly reasoned, flies in the face 
of Supreme Court guidance, ignores Congress, throws aside the 
settled expectations of thousands of patentees, and risks new, 
serious and unknown economic harm.” 


(analyzing this Court’s precedents to conclude 
Chevron Oil prospectivity remains available, in 
modified form). 
III. THIS COURT NEVER HELD THE 
“MACHINE OR TRANSFORMATION” TEST 
TO BE THE “DEFINITIVE TEST” OF 
PATENT-ELIGIBILITY OF PROCESSES 
The first Chevron Oil factor is present: that 
the decision below states a new rule.  While it is true 
that this Court has characterized the “machine or 
transformation” test as the “clue” to patent eligibility 
(Benson, 409 U.S. at 72, citing Cochrane v. Deener, 
94 U.S. 780, 787-88 (1876)), and has characterized a 
positive result from that test as militating in favor of 
patent eligibility (by preceding its mention with the 
abbreviation “e.g.,” as in Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 
175, 192 (1981)), this Court has never invalidated 
patent rights for failure alone to meet the “machine 
or transformation” test.  Quite simply, passing the 
“machine or transformation” test is a sufficient 
reason to find patent-eligibility, but this Court has 
never described it as a necessary pathway to patent-
eligibility.   
As Judge Newman’s dissent explains, the 
Bilski  majority misunderstood Cochrane dictum 
discussing a “process” as an act performed on subject 
matter, thus mistakenly believing that this Court 
adopted the “machine or transformation” test in the 
19th Century. Bilski, 545 F.3d at 984-85 (Newman, J. 
dissenting).  Judge Newman pointed out that this 
dictum has long been understood not to embody a 
rule or definition limiting what constitutes a 


statutory “process.” Id.  Judge Newman also 
demonstrated that this Court’s 20th Century citation 
of Cochrane has always put that earlier decision into 
its proper perspective, as not embodying an 
exclusion of non-transformative, non-machine 
processes. Id. at 985, citing Parker v. Flook, 437 U.S. 
584, 588 n.9 (1978) and Benson, 409 U.S. at 71. 
Judge Newman was right to conclude that 
nothing in this Court’s precedents prepared the 
innovation and investment communities for the legal 
regime change wrought by the lower court.  While 
this Court has used the “machine or transformation” 
test as a “clue” to confirm patent eligibility (as it did 
with the rubber curing process in Diamond v. Diehr), 
it has never used such a test to negate it.  Indeed, 
this Court’s decision in Benson declined invitations 
to elevate the “machine or transformation” “clue” 
into the definitive test of patent eligibility for 
claimed processes. 409 U.S. at 71. 
The USPTO’s public statements and 
examination policies have underscored the 
expectation that the “machine or transformation” 
test is not the “definitive test” for process patent 
eligibility.  Over 3,300,000 United States patents 
have issued under these policies.5   
 
Since July 1980, with the Third Revision to 
the Fourth Edition, the Manual of Patent Examining 
Procedure (MPEP) has guided both the USPTO and 
inventors on the meaning of the Supreme Court’s 
                                                 
5 U.S. Patent No. 4,210,000 issued on July 1, 1980, and U.S. 
Patent No. 7,510,000 issued on March 31, 2009. 
10 

patent eligibility tests. MPEP § 2105 (4th Ed. 3rd 
Rev., July 1980).  Over nearly thirty years, four 
editions and thirty-three revisions, the USPTO’s 
long-held understanding of this Court’s statements 
of the correct patent eligibility tests has remained 
exactly the same.  Here we quote the relevant MPEP 
text, as it has existed continuously in every edition 
and revision since 1980: 
The tests set forth by the Court are 
(note especially the italicized portions): 
(A) “The laws of nature, physical 
phenomena and abstract ideas” are not 
patentable subject matter. 
(B) A “nonnaturally occurring 
manufacture or composition of matter - 
a product of human ingenuity -having a 
distinctive name, character, [and] use” 
is patentable subject matter. 
(C) “[A] new mineral discovered in 
the earth or a new plant found in the 
wild is not patentable subject matter. 
Likewise, Einstein could not patent his 
celebrated E=mc2; nor could Newton 
have patented the law of gravity. Such 
discoveries are ‘manifestations of... 
nature, free to all men and reserved 
exclusively to none.’” 
(D) “[T]he production of articles for 
use from raw materials prepared by 
giving to these materials new forms, 
11 

qualities, properties, or combinations 
whether by hand labor or by 
machinery” [emphasis added] is a 
“manufacture” under 35 U.S.C. 101. 
MPEP § 2105 (4th Ed. 3rd Rev., July 1980) (identical 
text through 8th Ed. 7th Rev., July 2008) (all 
alterations and emphases in original).  Note what is 
missing.  None of these tests, which the USPTO 
gleaned from Supreme Court precedents, required a 
process to involve a “machine or transformation” to 
be patent-eligible.  Instead, insofar as the recognized 
tests related to processes, the MPEP states the same 
standard Judge Newman recognized in her dissent 
below – exclusion of laws of nature, natural 
phenomenon and abstract ideas. Bilski, 545 F.3d at 
977 (Newman, J., dissenting). 
Within this period, the MPEP also added new 
sections (e.g., §§ 2106 and 2110) dealing specifically 
with patent-eligibility of process inventions that use 
algorithms or computer programs.  Even today, none 
of these MPEP editions or revisions glean a 
definitive test from Supreme Court precedent 
requiring a process to involve a “machine or 
transformation” to be patent-eligible.  The only tests 
the USPTO recognized from Supreme Court 
decisions are the ones quoted above – tests that do 
not include a “machine or transformation” limitation 
for all processes. 
In 2005, after several important Federal 
Circuit decisions, the USPTO issued Interim 
Guidelines for Examination of Patent Applications 
for Patent Subject Matter Eligibility. See USPTO 
12 

Official Gazette Notices 22 November 2005 
(available at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/ 
sol/og/2005/week47/patgupa.htm, last visited June 
11, 2009).  Even here, the USPTO did not recognize 
any definitive test requiring processes to involve a 
“machine or transformation” for a process to be 
patent-eligible. 
 
The MPEP bears witness to the reasonable 
expectations of the innovation and investment 
community.  The USPTO analyzed this Court’s 
precedents and formed examination policies, 
guidelines and manuals for ascertaining patent-
eligibility.  Having examined and issued over 3.3 
million patents in this time period, it never 
recognized those precedents to require the same test 
that the Bilski majority divines from the same 
precedents.  In effect, the United States has 
examined patent applications and granted valuable 
personal property rights under Judge Newman’s 
view of Supreme Court precedent, not that of the 
Bilski majority.  Such policies, guidelines and 
manuals resulted in eligibility for patent protection 
for processes that involved neither a machine nor a 
transformation of an article to a different state or 
thing, as long as those processes did not otherwise 
seek to claim exclusive rights in inventions that 
solely embodied laws of nature, natural 
phenomenon, or abstract ideas.  Regardless of its 
correctness or incorrectness, the holding of the Bilski 
majority embodies different rules from what the 
USPTO employed in examining the most recent 3.3 
million issued patents. 
13 

IV.  THE NEW TEST CONFLICTS WITH THE 
HISTORICAL PURPOSES OF § 101 OF THE 
PATENT ACT 
The second Chevron Oil factor is present: a 
break with historical purposes of the rule.  Other 
amici have already briefed to this Court why the 
Bilski majority’s test conflicts with the purpose and 
history of the Patent Act of 1952. See, e.g., Brief of 
Amicus Curiae American Intellectual Property Law 
Association in Support of the Petition for a Writ of 
Certiorari (No. 08-964), at 6-8.  In short, (1) 
Congress placed the broad modifier “any” into the 
statutory language of 35 U.S.C. § 101, (2) committee 
reports note that statutory subject matter ought to 
include “anything under the sun that is made by 
man,” and (3) this Court’s precedents have respected 
these indications of Congressional intent in prior 
cases, e.g., Diehr, 450 U.S. at 182; Chakrabarty, 447 
U.S. at 309. 
14 

V. 
IT WOULD BE INEQUITABLE TO ALLOW 
RETROACTIVE APPLICATION OF ANY 
AFFIRMANCE 
Finally, the third Chevron Oil factor is 
present: unfairness in applying the new rule 
retroactively.  In articulating a new “definitive test,” 
the lower court has called into question the validity 
of thousands (perhaps millions) of issued patents 
filed and issued before any court ever used the 
“machine or transformation” criterion as the 
definitive test of patent-eligibility under § 101.  
Reliance on the old test would now leave many 
patentees with worthless patents if Bilski is applied 
retroactively.  If the new test were applied 
retroactively, typical patent claim-drafting practices 
would leave a patentee with claims that were drawn 
to patent-eligible subject matter when obtained, but 
now have retroactively become “non-statutory” as 
falling outside 35 U.S.C. § 101.  The “machine or 
transformation” test thus would reverse the rules of 
the game for millions of existing patents. Cf.  Festo, 
535 U.S. at 739 (“Fundamental alterations in these 
rules risk destroying the legitimate expectations of 
inventors in their property.”). 
The patent process is a bargain between the 
inventor and the Government.  The inventor agrees 
to disclose and specifically claim an invention, both 
to augment public welfare with an increase in the 
storehouse of knowledge, and to set forth a definitive 
demarcation of his or her property rights. In return, 
the Government grants a patent on the invention for 
a term of years. See, e.g., Pfaff v. Wells Electronics, 
15 

Inc., 525 U.S. 55, 63 (1998) (“[T]he patent system 
represents a carefully crafted bargain that 
encourages both the creation and the public 
disclosure of new and useful advances in technology, 
in return for an exclusive monopoly for a limited 
period of time.”).  Bilski retroactively rewrites the 
bargain.  It changes the rules for inventors after 
they already invented something useful and 
practical, disclosed their inventions in reliance on 
the rules of the day, but drafted process claims that 
omitted reference to a machine or transformation.  
An inventor confronting the new rules with the same 
invention today might re-weigh the options and 
decide not to seek patent protection, depriving the 
public of the inventor’s enabling disclosure.  Thus, 
Bilski destroys the reliance interest of patentees and 
instead helps copyists who stand ready to capitalize 
on the sudden availability of technology in the pubic 
domain that its creators had once thought protected.  
Bilski also re-calibrates the bargain going forward, 
disincentivizing public disclosure, instead 
incentivizing the cultivation of trade-secrecy 
protection. 
Changing the rules mid-game would be unfair, 
and for thousands (maybe more) would amount to a 
taking without either due process or just 
compensation.  “[A] patent is property, protected 
against appropriation both by individuals and the 
government.” Hartford-Empire Co. v. United States, 
323 U.S. 386, 415 (1945); 35 U.S.C. § 261 (“patents 
shall have the attributes of personal property.”).  A 
patentee’s rights are “secured, as against the 
government, by the constitutional guarantee which 
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prohibits the taking of private property for public 
use without compensation.” Hollister v. Benedict & 
Burnham Mfg. Co., 113 U.S. 59, 67 (1885); see also 
William Cramp & Sons Ship & Engine Bldg. Co. v. 
Int’l Curtis Marine Turbine Co., 246 U.S. 28, 39-40 
(1918) (patent rights are “protected by the 
guarantees of the Constitution and not subject 
therefore to be appropriated even for public use 
without adequate compensation.”).   
Affirming the “machine or transformation” 
test would accomplish a taking no less offensive to 
the Fifth Amendment, even though effected by 
judicial decree rather than legislative action. Webb’s 
Fabulous Pharmacies, Inc. v. Beckwith, 449 U.S. 
155, 164 (1980) (“Neither the Florida legislature by 
statute, nor the Florida courts by judicial decree, 
may accomplish [a taking] simply by 
recharacterizing” private property as public domain); 
Hughes v. Washington, 389 U.S. 290, 298 (1967) 
(Stewart, J., concurring) (“[T]he Due Process Clause 
of the Fourteenth Amendment forbids [a state’s 
confiscation of property] no less through its courts 
than through its legislature.”).  Justice Stevens has 
recognized that governmental recall of previously-
recognized patent rights would raise serious Fifth 
Amendment takings concerns:  
It would be manifestly unfair if, after 
issuing a patent, the Government as a 
representative of the public sought to 
modify the bargain by shortening the 
term of the patent in order to accelerate 
public access to the invention. The 
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fairness considerations that underlie 
the constitutional protections against ex 
post facto laws and laws impairing the 
obligation of contracts would 
presumably disable Congress from 
making such a retroactive change in the 
public’s bargain with an inventor 
without providing compensation for the 
taking. 
See Eldred v. Ashcroft, 537 U.S. 186, 226 (2003) 
(Stevens, J., dissenting).  If shortening a patent term 
would be “manifestly unfair” by retroactively 
changing the public’s bargain with an inventor, then 
surely eliminating it entirely is only more so.  There 
can be no question that retroactively applying the 
new “machine or transformation” test would create 
inequity and unfairness.  The innovation economy 
depends on the government keeping its bargains 
under the patent system.   
CONCLUSION 
This Court avoided the Constitutional danger 
of mid-stream rule changes vitiating previously-valid 
patent rights in two recent patent cases when 
presented with arguments to jettison old rules for 
new.  See  Warner-Jenkinson, 520 U.S. at 28; Festo, 
535 U.S. at 739-40.  Each of those two cases had the 
potential to limit or eliminate the longstanding 
doctrine of equivalents infringement test.  This 
Court elected not to impose such limitations.  In 
part, the Court steered away from upsetting 
legitimate expectations upon which the innovation 
and investment communities have relied.  That 
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remains one option of this Court – i.e., endorse 
Judge Newman’s dissent rather than the majority.  
However, as argued above, if the Court does impose 
the new limitations on patent eligibility articulated 
by the Bilski majority, Amicus Curiae 
TeleCommunication Systems, Inc. urges the Court to 
avoid the thorny Constitutional issues by invoking 
pure prospectivity of any affirmance under the 
Chevron Oil framework. 
 
 Respectfully 
submitted, 
 Robert 
P. 
Greenspoon 
 
 
Counsel of Record 
  William 
W. 
Flachsbart 
 
 
Flachsbart & Greenspoon, LLC 
 
 
53 W. Jackson Blvd, Ste 652 
 
  Chicago, 
Illinois 
60604 
 
  Attorneys 
for 
Amicus Curiae 
  TeleCommunication 
Systems, 
Inc. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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