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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2015




Boston University School of Law




Congress has the power "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts."' Patent law subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. section 101 creates a balance between incentivizing inventors to publicly disclose their knowledge and protecting the public from monopolies on ideas. Allowing inventors to monopolize the basic tools of scientific and technological work might "tend to impede innovation more than it would tend to promote it."2 "Laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas" constitute unpatentable subject matter under section 101.3 The section 101 inquiry serves as a threshold test to determine if the subject matter of the patent is directed to a general idea or a "new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.4 The 2014 Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int'l5 ("Alice") decision became the first Supreme Court decision since Bilski v. Kappos6 to address the section 101 subject matter analysis for software.

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