Respondents filed a patent application claiming invention for a process for molding raw, uncured synthetic rubber into cured precision products. While it was possible, by using well-known time, temperature, and cure relationships, to calculate by means of an established mathematical equation when to open the molding press and remove the cured product, according to respondents, the industry had not been able to measure precisely the temperature inside the press, thus making it difficult to make the necessary computations to determine the proper cure time. Respondents characterized their contribution to the art to reside in the process of constantly measuring the temperature inside the mold and feeding the temperature measurements into a computer that repeatedly recalculates the cure time by use of the mathematical equation and then signals a device to open the press at the proper time. The patent examiner rejected respondents' claims on the ground that they were drawn to nonstatutory subject matter under 35 U. If new and useful, it is just as patentable as is a piece of machinery. The machinery pointed out as suitable to perform the process may or may not be new or patentable.
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Diamond v. Diehr , U. Diehr was the third member of a trilogy of Supreme Court decisions on the patent-eligibility of computer software related inventions. The inventors , respondents , filed a patent application for a "[process] for molding raw, uncured synthetic rubber into cured precision products. Using the Arrhenius equation. The problem was that there was, at the time the invention was made, no disclosed way to obtain an accurate measure of the temperature without opening the press.
In the traditional method the temperature of the mold press, which was apparently set at a fixed temperature and was controlled by thermostat, fluctuated due to the opening and closing of the press.
The invention solved this problem by using embedded thermocouples to constantly check the temperature, and then feeding the measured values into a computer. The computer then used the Arrhenius equation to calculate when sufficient energy had been absorbed so that the molding machine should open the press. A method of operating a rubber-molding press for precision molded compounds with the aid of a digital computer, comprising:.
The patent examiner rejected this invention as unpatentable subject matter under 35 U. The Court of Customs and Patent Appeals CCPA , the predecessor to the current Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit , reversed, noting that an otherwise patentable invention did not become unpatentable simply because a computer was involved. The U. Supreme Court granted the petition for certiorari by the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks to resolve this question.
The Court repeated its earlier holding that mathematical formulas in the abstract are not eligible for patent protection. But it also held that a physical machine or process which makes use of a mathematical algorithm is different from an invention which claims the algorithm, as such, in the abstract. Thus, if the invention as a whole meets the requirements of patentability—that is, it involves "transforming or reducing an article to a different state or thing"—it is patent-eligible, even if it includes a software component.
The CCPA's reversal of the patent rejection was affirmed. But the Court carefully avoided overruling Benson or Flook. It did criticize the analytic methodology of Flook , however, by challenging its use of analytic dissection , which the Flook Court based on Neilson v.
The patent that issued after the decision was U. Patent 4,,, "Direct digital control of rubber molding presses. All method claims relate to molding of physical articles. The only diagrams in the patent are flowcharts. There are no diagrams of machinery. As the dissenting opinion in Diehr noted, the patent specification "teaches nothing about the chemistry of the synthetic rubber-curing process, nothing about the raw materials to be used in curing synthetic rubber, nothing about the equipment to be used in the process, and nothing about the significance or effect of any process variable such as temperature, curing time, particular compositions of material, or mold configurations.
For many years, it was believed that Diehr effectively overruled Flook , despite the majority opinion's avoiding any such statement. In , in Mayo v. Prometheus ,  the unanimous opinion of the Supreme Court interpreted Diehr so as to harmonize it with Flook. The Court "found the overall process patent eligible because of the way the additional steps of the process [besides the equation] integrated the equation into the process as a whole. The Court interpreted Diehr slightly differently in Alice v.
CLS Bank , another unanimous opinion, but without taking issue with the Mayo interpretation. The Alice Court said:. In Diehr , by contrast [with Flook ], we held that a computer-implemented process for curing rubber was patent eligible, but not because it involved a computer.
The claim employed a "well-known" mathematical equation, but it used that equation in a process designed to solve a technological problem in "conventional industry practice.
These additional steps, we recently explained, "transformed the process into an inventive application of the formula. In other words, the claims in Diehr were patent eligible because they improved an existing technological process, not because they were implemented on a computer. These two opinions state the current Supreme Court interpretation of what the Diehr case holds. The citations in this article are written in Bluebook style.
Please see the talk page for more information. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. United States Supreme Court case. BNA 1. Benson , U. Flook , U. The Supreme Court's most recent decisions on patent eligibility of software-related inventions are Bilski v. Kappos , U. CLS Bank , No. No comparable language is found in section , which has retained substantially the same form since the first patent act in Patent 4,, Prometheus , U. Hidden categories: Articles with short description.
Supreme Court of the United States. Certiorari granted, U. A machine controlled by a computer program was patentable. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger Associate Justices William J.
Brennan Jr. Powell Jr.
Diamond v. Diehr
Diamond v. Diehr, U. BNA 1 full-text. The application in Diehr recited a process of curing synthetic rubber. The process included use of a known mathematical formula to determine the time for curing, and a programmed digital computer to determine the proper length of time for curing the product and automatically opening the mold.
Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175 (1981)