Lemley's amicus brief on the Bilski case

Lemley's amicus brief on the Bilski case

OCRed it here.

Both the language of section 101 and the legislative history surrounding the
enactment of that suggestion are expansive, permitting patent protection for
_nactn_el_t of ll\al suggeslion al.e exphnsive, pel.miWil_g palent pl.otection for
"anytl_ing undel. U_e sLln lnade by" hulnan eL_deavol.. Diolllol7rf \7. clTnm.n_at._l 7
U.S. 303, 309 (1980) (_uoling S. Rep. No. 197g, 82"' Conp., z'" Sess. s (1_5±);
H.R. Rep. No. 1_23, B2"' Col_g., ±"' Sess. 6 (19S±)). Thht e_Uhnsivc sco_e |.eneIts
a wise policy jLldgLnel_l not lo disIourage innovat¡on in l_ew _nd Lll_fol.eseel_ hre_s
of lechnology by ilnposing al.bitl.ary lilnils ol_ tl_e sIope of _alel_l pl.otectiol_.
AL_y altelnpl lo limit _atentable subjecl ln_neL. by identi_inp _olne aL.eas of
technology as unpatentable woLlld Likely _e ul_sLlccesshll. The history of Pfforts to
cabiLI palentabiliy of sokwal.e, beginnil_g wilh Gol_slllnlk v. B_tTJOll, 409 U.S. _3
(1972), and endil_g wiU_ AT_T v. E_Pl, 17± F.3d 13s± (Fed. Cil.. lg99), is not
encoul.aging. TIIis Coul_, ivs pl.edecessol., alld llFe SLlptelne Coul_ have |.epeatedLy
sought to dl.aw lines betweeL_ sokwal.e ilTveL_lions tL
l il_volved physic_l
tL.ansfol.lnalion and those lhal l.epresented lnerely lnenlal steps ol. Lnatl_elnalical
aLgol.ithn_s. Al each tUl.L_, lhose lines _LFitkly el.oded ol. h_d to _e a_al_dolled as
ul_woL.kable. Wol.sP, tlley wel.e l.eadily palned, le_dinp lo whal Cohen and Lelnlcy
have called "tlTe doctril_e of the ln_gic wotds " ill wl_icl_ sohware couLd bP e_sily
patented by tl_ose "in the IUTOW," n_el.ely by Lltilizing cel_ail\ clailn lal_guhge lo


describe an invention indistillgLlisl_able in sLLb_taLIc_ fl.oln a sccol_d clail__ Ulht
would be rejected.
lf lhe pl.obleln wPl.e merely tl_Bt limiting _atel_lable su_ject lnallel. l.e_LLired
llle drawil\g of arbi_._ly lines, thal fatt lnigl_t LIOt _loL\e _e el_ougl_ to concLLlde tl_at
tl\e effolt should be abal_dolled. But tl_e _l.o_Lcln is wol.se tl__n th_t. Al.bitl.ary
lilnits on the patenlability of paltituLal. types or invelIlions c_n intel.fel.e with the
pLlryoses or lhe patenl systeln. New and l\olTobvious ideas _o |_ot _|.i_e ollly il_
fields of cndeavol. classically denolnil_ated "IPcl\llological." Nol. _o ll_ey _lways
invoLve lhe _llysical tl.ansforlnhtion of maLel.ial. Alld even wl_en ll_ey do, UIe new
aLld nonobvioLls invel_liol_ okclT resides noL il\ tl_e kal_sfol.|\\ation, _Llt in lhP ll\elIlal
illsight that a _articLlla_ tl.ansforlnatioll would l_hve _n ulIex_ecled value. Lilniling
patelll Ul.olect¡on to classical physical _._Tsfol_natiol\s al_d exclLldil\p inventions
based on lncntal sleps ol. discoveries of llaLLlral _l_enolncl_a ll_iphl h_ve UL.oblen_alic
conse_Llel_ces fol. a val.iety or ¡ndLEstl.ies, intludilIg |_ol just coln_LllPl. sohwaL.e bLlt
il_dusll.¡es lil<e phal.lnaceuticals aL_d biotecl_llology for whoL_T _hlent proteclion is
Il.itical. Inslead, UatelIl ptotettion sllould be avai_a_le fDl. IIew _nd l_ol\obvious
advances in any field, _|.ovided tl_ey il\volve lhe yl.attical _pplic_tion of a ITew i_e_
OT discovery.
We do IIOt il_lel_d lo s_ggest thal business lnethod al_d sofiwaL.e _atent_
_l.esPnl no problelns fol. socicty. Palel_ts aL.e solnetilnes wl.ongly issLled ill tl_ese

fields, and those patems can llave pelnicious consP_Llellces. Bul llle solLltion lo tlTe
probleln of bad patents in lhe soRwal.e and business metl_od fields is not the
cl.eation of absoLute |.Llles againsl patent>bilily, _ut tl_e aU_lication of existiI_g
doclrines designed to weed DUt bad patents, and if necessal.y lhe L.efol.Ln of otllel.
doctl.il_es lhat encoul.age liligatiol_ abuse. ReleL_t decisions, ¡llcludinp WSR, eBnl_
and SP_gntP, give the CO_IL_ |__any ofthe lools it |_eeds botl\ to wPed out bad U_t_nls
and to lilnit U_e Llse ofyalents to hold up an indLlsll.y. lndeed, ol\e oftl\e lessol_s of
lhe pl.iol. era of l.estriclive subject lnaneL. is that il_ pl.illI_ry effccl was L_Ol to
_l.evel_t thP patPnting of sohwal.e, but to n_ake it llal.det fol. llle PTO __d COLIL._S to
identify and weed oul tllose _ad patents.