An Automatic Means-Plus-Function Limitation for Otherwise Unpatentable Subject Matter

August 1, 2022Analysis
Wake Forest Journal of Business and Intellectual Property Law

Patent law awards deserving applicants an exclusive right to an invention in exchange for disclosure of the innovation. Section 101 of the Patent Act of 1952 sets forth what subject matter is eligible for patent protection. However, the Supreme Court has long held that the scope of subject matter eligibility is not as broad as 35 U.S.C. § 101 may imply. For more than 150 years, the Court has recognized that § 101 and its predecessors contain implicit judicial exceptions. A claim may not qualify as patentable subject matter under § 101 if it is directed to a law of nature, natural phenomenon, or abstract idea.

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