In re Bilski 545 F.3d 943 (Fed. Cir. 2008)

The Federal Circuit, affirming a decision by the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, clarified what constitutes eligible subject matter under a method patent. The Court concluded that a process directed to managing the consumption risk costs of a commodity is not patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. §101 because the process encompassed purely mental steps without the aid of a computer or other device. Although the ruling could narrow the availability of patent protection for business methods, the court refused to apply “categorical exclusions” of business method claims. The Court reaffirmed the principle that business method claims are subject to the same patentability requirements as any other process or method.