Panel Criticizes Bilski Machine-or-Transformation Test
By Kathryn Freund – Edited by Ryan Ward
On Thursday, April 1st, JOLT hosted a panel discussion at Harvard Law School on the impact of In Re Bilski, a 2008 en banc decision by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit holding that the machine-or-transformation test is the proper method for determining patent-eligible subject matter. Digest previously covered the Bilski decision here. The case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in November 2009.
The three panelists, Don Steinberg, Professor Kevin Collins of the University of Indiana Maurer School of Law, and Professor Michael Meurur of Boston University School of Law, examined the Bilski holding from different litigation and economic perspectives, and wagered predictions on the forthcoming Supreme Court decision. The panelists agreed that the Bilski machine-or-transformation test rightly excludes software and business method patents, but fails as a useful test. They went on to agree that the Supreme Court will likely strike down the Bilski patent, but is unlikely to provide a concrete new test for courts to follow.