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Frequently Asked Questions

How have judicially recognized exceptions changed the definition of patent-eligible subject matter over the years?

The definition of patent-eligible subject matter has evolved over the years due to judicially recognized exceptions. These exceptions have been introduced to accommodate the rapid advancements in technology. For instance, the term "non-transitory" was first introduced in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) training material in 2009, stating that transitory signals are not patent-eligible. This was a significant shift in the understanding of patent-eligible subject matter, particularly in the realm of computer-readable media (CRM). The judicially recognized exceptions include abstract ideas, laws of nature, natural phenomena, mental processes, mathematical algorithms, and scientific principles. These exceptions have broadened the scope of patent-eligible subject matter, allowing for more innovative and complex inventions to be patented. For example, the Beauregard claim, named after a 1995 case, allows software programs stored on a tangible medium to be patented. However, this was challenged in the case of In re Nuijten, where the Federal Circuit stated that transitory propagating signals were not patent-eligible, undermining Beauregard claims.
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