Parker v. Flook,
437 U.S. 584 (1978)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Parker v. Flook, 437 U.S. 584 (1978)

Parker v. Flook

No. 77-642

Argued April 25, 1978

Decided June 22, 1978

437 U.S. 584


Respondent's method for updating alarm limits during catalytic conversion processes, in which the only novel feature is a mathematical formula, held not patentable under § 101 of the Patent Act. The identification of a limited category of useful, though conventional, post-solution applications of such a formula does not make the method eligible for patent protection, since, assuming the formula to be within prior art, as it must be, O'Reilly v. Morse, 15 How. 62, respondent's application contains no patentable invention. The chemical processes involved in catalytic conversion are well known, as are the monitoring of process variables, the use of alarm limits to trigger alarms, the notion that alarm limit values must be recomputed and readjusted, and the use of computers for "automatic process monitoring." Pp. 437 U. S. 588-596.

559 F.2d 21, reversed.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. STEWART, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J., and REHNQUIST, J., joined, post, p. 437 U. S. 598.

Page 437 U. S. 585

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