Making the case for business method patents at the Supreme Court
In its highly anticipated Bilski v. Kappos decision, issued on June 28, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit's "machine−or−transformation" test, which required that a patentable process either be tied to a machine or apparatus or involve a transformation of a particular article into a different state or thing. The Court also affirmatively recognized that "business methods" are not categorically excluded from the scope of 35 U.S.C. § 101. The decision was the culmination of Finnegan’s efforts on behalf of the applicants in In re Bilski, which began with the Supreme Court granting Finnegan’s petition for a writ of certiorari filed in June 2009. The petition sought to overturn a decision issued on October 30, 2008, by the Federal Circuit which set forth a test requiring that a patentable process either be tied to a machine or apparatus or involve a transformation of one thing into something else. While the Supreme Court affirmed the rejection of the Bilski business method patent application, its decision overturning the Federal Circuit’s machine-or-transformation test was a victory for patents on business method and software. Finnegan made the oral argument before the Court on November 9, 2009.