News & Events

News & Events

5.4.2015

Back to the ‘Useful Arts’ — Supreme Court Reins in the Expansive Interpretation of Patent Eligibility

Bookmark and Share

Lane Powell Shareholder Paul Swanson authored an article in the May 2015 issue of Seattle Business magazine titled “Back to the ‘Useful Arts’ — Supreme Court Reins in the Expansive Interpretation of Patent Eligibility.” In the article, Swanson discussed Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which authorizes Congress to “promote the progress of science and the useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries,” and the scope of patent-eligible subject matter in the U.S. He also discussed a two-part patent-eligibility test that was vigorously applied in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l.

Patent-eligible subject matter in the United States, however, is not statutorily defined in terms of useful arts categories. 35 U.S.C. § 101 instead provides that “[w]hoever 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.” Inventors cannot claim any exclusive rights in laws of nature, natural phenomena or abstract ideas. They constitute implicit exceptions to patent-eligible subject matter.