Oral Argument of Brenner v. Manson

Brenner v. Manson was decided by the US Supreme Court in 1966.  The case dealt with whether a method claim to produce a product is patentable when the putative inventor knew of no use for the produced product.  The Supreme Court decided that the method claim did not satisfy 35 USC section 101 under those circumstances.

This oral argument* is primarily of interest in regard to Bilski v. Kappos for the policy arguments that are made in regard to the purpose of section 101.  Interestingly, Justice Fortas, in writing for the majority, concluded the opinion with this final sentence: “[A] patent system must be related to the world of commerce, rather than to the realm of philosophy. . . .”  One might find that statement useful when considering whether 35 USC section 101 was intended to cover business methods.

Finally, in the Court’s opinion there is one interesting line that seems particularly apt for a patent case even though the Court was dealing with statutory construction rather than claim construction.  Justice Fortas wrote “[A] simple, everyday word can be pregnant with ambiguity when applied to the facts of life. . . .”

You can listen to the oral argument Here.

You can read the opinion Here.

*I believe this is the only place on the Internet where you can currently listen to this oral argument.  I ordered it from the Supreme Court archives.

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