Bilski v. Kappos: The Most Recent Event in an Ongoing Saga
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Bilski v. Kappos: The Most Recent Event in an Ongoing Saga

By Scott M. Alter1

On June 28, the U.S. Supreme Court finally2 handed down its long-awaited decision of Bilski v. Kappos.3 Because it had the potential to affect the patent eligibility of financial, software, internet, medical diagnostic and other technologies, this decision was closely watched by many from a variety of industries. But has this decision drastically changed the type of subject matter that can be patented as some had feared or hoped, or is it "business as usual"? The short answer is "neither of the above." A more complete answer would add " . . . but stay tuned for the next chapter - - - coming soon from the Federal Circuit."


In October of 2008, in an en banc decision the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a decision from the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences that Bilski's patent application was not directed to patent-eligible subject matter.4 The subject matter of the application related to a process for hedging risk in commodities trading. Claim 1 of the application, which was especially focused on by the Court, is as follows:

A method for managing the consumption risk costs of a commodity sold by a commodity provider at a fixed...

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