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This is for brainstorming about a timeline-style look at Case law in the USA.


[edit] Temp notes

Ok. Summaries of 90 characters or fewer.

> Can you fill these in for anything below?

The cases mentioned in your mail are:

  • AT&T Corp. v. Excel Communications Inc., 1999
  • In re Alappat, 1994
  • In re Lowry, 1994
  • In re Bilski, 2008
  • Bilski v. Kappos, 2010

[edit] Sources of lists of cases that are important

From reading many rulings, and webpages including:

[edit] 1790, Patent Act

(constitution more important?)

More info:

  • (this a quote?) An act to promote the progress of useful Arts
  • The "promote progress" in the Patent Act was copied in from the Constitution. Wouldn't attributing it to the constitution be stronger? Also, an interesting point: Lessig points out regularly that the Constitution has many clauses that give powers to Congress, but this one is the only one which places a condition on that power - Congress can have this power *if* it "promotes progress".

[edit] 1948, Funk Brothers Seed Co. v. Kalo Inoculant Co.

  • Supreme Court
  • laws of nature are not patentable: “[h]e who discovers a hitherto unknown phenomenon of nature has no claim to a monopoly of it which the law recognizes. If there is to be invention from such a discovery, it must come from the application of the law of nature to a new and useful end.”

[edit] 1952, Patent Act amended

  • name: Patent Act, July 19, 1952
  • building: Capitol Building
  • wiki page: -

More info:

  • Along with 'machine', 'manufacture' or 'composition of matter', a 'process' is included as patentable statutory subject matter.

[edit] 1966 President’s Commission on the Patent System


[edit] 1968, PTO guidelines

  • I found this reference: See, e.g., 33 Fed. Reg. 15581, 15609-10 (1968).

[edit] 1972, Gottschalk v. Benson


Supreme court rejects a patent on an algorithm.

[edit] 1978, Parker v. Flook


Supreme court rejects a patent on an algorithm that controlled an alarm.

[edit] 1981, Diamond v Diehr


More info:

  •  ? A machine controlled by a computer process is patentable. ?
  • Maybe clearer: "the working of a machine is patentable, whether it is controlled by a human or a computer". This makes it clearer that this ruling shouldn't necessarily have changed anything - they just upheld a machine patent.

[edit] 1982, Creation of CAFC

  • name: Creation of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, April 2, 1982
  • building: Howard T. Markey National Courts Building,
  • wiki page: -

More info:

[edit] 1990, Northern Telecom v. Datapoint

  • the Federal Circuit ruled that loading an algorithm onto a computer is a “mere clerical function.”

[edit] 1992, Arrhythmia Research Technology, Inc. v. Corazonix Corp.

  • Gene's mention of this in (C) is the first I've heard of it. Gene makes it sound like it's not widely accepted. Probably not important.
  • Used the "Freeman-Walter-Abele" test
  • Clarified that test as: "when the mathematical algorithm is applied in one or more steps of an otherwise statutory process claim, or one or more elements of an otherwise statutory apparatus claim, the requirements of section 101 are met."

[edit] 1994, In re Alappat

  • name: In re Alappat, July 29, 1994
  • building: Federal Circuit (Howard T. Markey National Courts Building)
  • wiki page: In re Alappat
  • ESP brief says: used only the 2nd half of Diehr

More info:

  • Needs concise summary of holding ("Software running on a general purpose computer may now be patentable"???)
  • Installing software on a computer makes a "new machine", which is patentable

[edit] 1994, In re Lowry

  • name: In re Lowry, August 26, 1994 - 32 F.3d 1579, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1994).
  • building: Federal Circuit again
  • wiki page: In re Lowry

More info:

  • summary of holding: ?"Methods of organizing memory using data structures are now patentable"???
  • http://www.bitlaw.com/source/cases/patent/Lowry.html
  • the claims describe "how application programs manage information" - that's less jargonish. "data structures" is too technical for public use IMO.
  • Summary: "How application programs store information is now patentable"

[edit] 1998, State Street Bank

  • name: State Street Bank v. Signature Financial Group, July 23, 1998
  • building: Federal Circuit (Howard T. Markey National Courts Building)
  • wiki page: State Street v. Signature Group (1999, USA)
  • ESP brief says: used only the 2nd half of Diehr

More info:

  • A claim is eligible for protection by a patent if it involves some practical application and it produces a "useful, concrete and tangible result".

[edit] 1999, AT&T Corp. v. Excel Communications Inc



More info:

  •  ?

[edit] 2007, In re Comiskey


[edit] 2007, KSR v. Teleflex

  • ESP brief says: if a combination of elements in the prior art is “obvious to try,” the combination does not pass the conditions of Section 103

[edit] 2008, in re Bilski

  • name: In re Bilski, 2009, October 30, 2008
  • building: Federal Circuit again
  • wiki page: in re Bilski

More info:

  • The "useful, concrete and tangible result" of State Street is inadequate.

[edit] 2010, Bilski v. Kappos

More info:

  • Supreme Court may affirm their previous rejections of software patents,

or decline to decided this issue.