Not everything is patentable. First, only inventions are patentable. Second, only certain inventions are patentable. Four types of inventions are patentable: articles of manufacture, machines, processes, and compositions of matter. 35 U.S.C. §101. These four types of inventions are referred to as patent-eligible subject matter. Some things, referred to as patent-ineligible subject matter, are not patentable: laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas.
Continue Reading Alice is Alive and Well!

Business owners often ask whether they should protect their intellectual property with a trade secret or a patent. The answer is:  It depends.

What Can Be Protected? 

The first thing to consider is what it is that needs to be protected.  A trade secret protects a business’s confidential and proprietary information.  The information can be a formula, process, or customer list.

A patent protects an invention. The invention can be an article of manufacture, a machine, a process (such as software), or a composition of matter (like a chemical formula).
Continue Reading Trade Secret or Patent?

Since the Alice v. CLS Bank and Mayo v. Prometheus decisions, district courts and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has struggled to determine and navigate the boundary between what is and what is not patent-eligible subject matter. The result has been a tangle of intertwined decisions that create an extremely wide and fuzzy boundary. Attorneys are often left to throw up their hands when asked whether a new invention is patentable or whether an existing patent will likely withstand a patent eligibility challenge under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Some would argue that Federal Circuit decisions are currently dependent on which panel of judges hear the case because the present law is so ambiguous and subject to different interpretations. Therefore, the legal community, inventors, investors, corporations, and the public would greatly benefit from the U.S. Supreme Court’s guidance on this issue.
Continue Reading Will the Supreme Court Unravel the Patent-Eligibility Tangle?