What Do You Think About Patent Subject Matter Eligibility?

On Friday, January 24th, JETLaw will host its symposium on patent-eligible subject matter, Patents 101: From Computer Code to Genetic Codes. (Details below.) Should courts care whether patented processes are implemented in software? Should software be considered unpatentable as an “algorithm”? Should any part of the genetic code be patentable? How much change does genetic material have to undergo before the result can be patentable? Considering the exceptions above, is patent eligibility generally too broad, too narrow, or about right? Most importantly, why?

What would you ask our panelists?

Please submit your questions by 11:59 PM CST on Tuesday, Jan. 21st. The best will be considered for inclusion in the appropriate panel.

Symposium Details

The symposium features a keynote address by the Hon. Randall R. Rader, Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit (which decides all patent cases appealed from the district courts).  The symposium will also include panels focused on several topics: Section 101 patent eligibility generally, gene patents (which the Supreme Court addressed this summer), and software patents (which it will take up this year). The symposium schedule is available here.

The symposium is open to the public and will be held at Vanderbilt Law School (131 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203). It will also be streamed live to the web.

Patent Eligibility Landscape

Section 101 of Title 35 of the U.S. Code sets out the subject matter that can be patented:

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.

The courts have interpreted this to mean that “anything under the sun that is made by man” is eligible for patent protection (if it meets all the other patent requirements), but have excepted mathematical algorithms, naturally occurring phenomena, laws of nature, and abstract ideas.


–Brad Edmondson

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