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Historically, the only role of section 101 of the 1952 Patent Act was to identify the types of subject matter — a “process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter” — that are eligible for a patent if “the conditions and requirements” of the Patent Act are satisfied. In 1966, the Supreme Court acknowledged that other provisions of the Patent Act (including sections 102 and 103) are the principal tools that Congress provided for drawing a distinction between eligible inventions that are and are not patentable. Years later, the Court acknowledged that Congress intended in section 101 that the patent laws should be given wide scope. And as recently as 2002, the Court acknowledged that section 101 is a dynamic provision designed to encompass new and unforeseen inventions. Yet, despite these acknowledgements, the Court has seemingly ignored section 101’s limited role, and recently agreed to decide whether computer-implemented processes are patent-eligible under the Court’s interpretation of section 101.

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