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29 William Mitchell Law Review 1047 (2002)


This article is an attempt to refine the substantive law of patents as to reestablish the patent system's control over the determination of whether business methods are patentable. It offers a framework for addressing business methods that allows the system to stay focused on the traditional goals of the statutory subject-matter requirement. It solves some of the problems that modern business methods present. The problems that it does not solve, it at least explains in a manner that sheds some light on the nature of the tasks that remain. This article takes considerable notice of how the relevant legal rules of patent law developed historically. This notice is deliberate. Many of the basic problems that the United States patent system is currently experiencing with business method patents are not actually new; they have instead troubled the system previously, but at a low level. This situation has now changed. But the change is not so much because the legal merits of modern business methods are new. Rather, it is because the methods are now both numerically commonplace and economically valuable. As a result, their patenting is being pressed often and with vigor.