Lawrence G. Wallace for petitioner Facts of the case Engineers James Diehr and Theodore Lutton invented an improved press that cured rubber by controlled heating. The press contained a temperature probe which measured the temperature rise of the rubber from within the press. By repeatedly calculating the rubber cure time from this temperature measurement and comparing this computed cure time to the actual elapsed time, the computer was able to determine precisely when to open the press and eject the cured rubber, which then emerged perfectly cured. The patent examiner, viewing all computer programs as unpatentable because of the earlier Supreme Court decision Gottschalk v.
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Diehr Warren E. Justice Rehnquist. William H. Rehnquist: This case comes to us from the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals and presents the question of whether a process for curing synthetic rubber which includes in several of its steps the use of a mathematical formula and a programmed digital computer is subject matter eligible for patent protection under 35 U.
Section That section provides for the issuance of patents to whoever invents or discovers any new or useful process, machines, manufacture or composition of matter or any new and useful improvement thereof. The respondents claim to have invented a process that will ensure the creation of a perfectly cured rubber product.
Previously, the industry have been unable to obtain a perfect cure because it could not precisely measure the temperature inside the molding press, thus making it difficult to make the necessary computations to determine how long the cure should take.
Respondents characterized their contribution to the art as inhering in the process of constantly measuring and finding the temperature inside the mold and feeding these temperature measurements into a computer which calculates the proper cure time and then signals the device to open the press at the completion of the cure.
A process is eligible for patent protection if it transforms or reduces an article to a different state or thing. While a mathematical formula, like a law of nature, cannot be the subject of a patent.
Respondents do not seek to patent a mathematical formula, instead they seek protection for a complete process for curing synthetic rubber beginning with the loading of a mold with uncured rubber and ending with the opening of the press at the completion of the cure. A claim drawn to subject matter otherwise statutory does not become nonstatutory simply because it uses a mathematical formula, computer program or digital computer.
We affirm the judgment of the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals. Warren E. Burger: Thank you, Mr.
Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175 (1981)
Bilski v. Kappos , U. Related Research Articles Neither software nor computer programs are explicitly mentioned in statutory United States patent law. Patent law has changed to address new technologies, and decisions of the United States Supreme Court and United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit CAFC beginning in the latter part of the 20th century have sought to clarify the boundary between patent-eligible and patent-ineligible subject matter for a number of new technologies including computers and software.
Diamond v. Diehr
Prometheus See our new Guidance on Section Dealing with Section It was not always clear that computer software was patentable in the United States. While it is clearly patentable at the present time, it is not clear that this will always be the case. The following description provides a brief history of software patents in the United States. Patent and Trademark Office historically has been reluctant to grant patents on inventions relating to computer software.
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. The claims[ edit ] Independent claim 1 of the allowed patent is representative. It provides: 1. 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.