Bilski decision, as text

Below is the court’s opinion, as text. For analysis, go to Bilski: analysis of Supreme Court decision.

Cite as: 561 U. S. ____ (2010) 1

Opinion of the Court

NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the
preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to
notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Wash
ington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order
that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

_________________
No. 08–964

_________________
BERNARD L. BILSKI AND RAND A. WARSAW,

PETITIONERS v. DAVID J. KAPPOS, UNDER

SECRETARY OF COMMERCE FOR INTEL-

LECTUAL PROPERTY AND DIRECTOR,

PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF

APPEALS FOR THE FEDERAL CIRCUIT

[June 28, 2010]

JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court,
except as to Parts II–B–2 and II–C–2.*

The question in this case turns on whether a patent can
be issued for a claimed invention designed for the business
world. The patent application claims a procedure for
instructing buyers and sellers how to protect against the
risk of price fluctuations in a discrete section of the econ
omy. Three arguments are advanced for the proposition
that the claimed invention is outside the scope of patent
law: (1) it is not tied to a machine and does not transform
an article; (2) it involves a method of conducting business;
and (3) it is merely an abstract idea. The Court of Appeals
ruled that the first mentioned of these, the so-called ma
chine-or-transformation test, was the sole test to be used
for determining the patentability of a “process” under the
Patent Act, 35 U. S. C. §101.

——————
* JUSTICE SCALIA does not join Parts II–B–2 and II–C–2.

2 BILSKI v. KAPPOS

Opinion of the Court

I

Petitioners’ application seeks patent protection for a
claimed invention that explains how buyers and sellers of
commodities in the energy market can protect, or hedge,
against the risk of price changes. The key claims are
claims 1 and 4. Claim 1 describes a series of steps in
structing how to hedge risk. Claim 4 puts the concept
articulated in claim 1 into a simple mathematical formula.
Claim 1 consists of the following steps:

“(a) initiating a series of transactions between said
commodity provider and consumers of said commodity
wherein said consumers purchase said commodity at a
fixed rate based upon historical averages, said fixed
rate corresponding to a risk position of said consum
ers;

“(b) identifying market participants for said com
modity having a counter-risk position to said consum
ers; and

“(c) initiating a series of transactions between said
commodity provider and said market participants at a
second fixed rate such that said series of market par
ticipant transactions balances the risk position of said
series of consumer transactions.” App. 19–20.

The remaining claims explain how claims 1 and 4 can be
applied to allow energy suppliers and consumers to mini
mize the risks resulting from fluctuations in market de
mand for energy. For example, claim 2 claims “[t]he
method of claim 1 wherein said commodity is energy and
said market participants are transmission distributors.”
Id., at 20. Some of these claims also suggest familiar
statistical approaches to determine the inputs to use in
claim 4’s equation. For example, claim 7 advises using
well-known random analysis techniques to determine how
much a seller will gain “from each transaction under each
historical weather pattern.” Id., at 21.

The patent examiner rejected petitioners’ application,
explaining that it “ ‘is not implemented on a specific appa
ratus and merely manipulates [an] abstract idea and
solves a purely mathematical problem without any limita
tion to a practical application, therefore, the invention is
not directed to the technological arts.’ ” App. to Pet. for
Cert. 148a. The Board of Patent Appeals and Interfer
ences affirmed, concluding that the application involved
only mental steps that do not transform physical matter
and was directed to an abstract idea. Id., at 181a–186a.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal
Circuit heard the case en banc and affirmed. The case
produced five different opinions. Students of patent law
would be well advised to study these scholarly opinions.

Chief Judge Michel wrote the opinion of the court. The
court rejected its prior test for determining whether a
claimed invention was a patentable “process” under
§101—whether it produces a “ ‘useful, concrete, and tangi
ble result’ ”—as articulated in State Street Bank & Trust
Co. v. Signature Financial Group, Inc., 149 F. 3d 1368,
1373 (1998), and AT&T Corp. v. Excel Communications,
Inc., 172 F. 3d 1352, 1357 (1999). See In re Bilski, 545
F. 3d 943, 959–960, and n. 19 (CA Fed. 2008) (en banc).
The court held that “[a] claimed process is surely patent
eligible under §101 if: (1) it is tied to a particular machine
or apparatus, or (2) it transforms a particular article into a
different state or thing.” Id., at 954. The court concluded
this “machine-or-transformation test” is “the sole test
governing §101 analyses,” id., at 955, and thus the “test
for determining patent eligibility of a process under §101,”
id., at 956. Applying the machine-or-transformation test,
the court held that petitioners’ application was not patent
eligible. Id., at 963–966. Judge Dyk wrote a separate
concurring opinion, providing historical support for the
court’s approach. Id., at 966–976.

Three judges wrote dissenting opinions. Judge Mayer
argued that petitioners’ application was “not eligible for
patent protection because it is directed to a method of
conducting business.” Id., at 998. He urged the adoption
of a “technological standard for patentability.” Id., at
1010. Judge Rader would have found petitioners’ claims
were an unpatentable abstract idea. Id., at 1011. Only
Judge Newman disagreed with the court’s conclusion that
petitioners’ application was outside of the reach of §101.
She did not say that the application should have been
granted but only that the issue should be remanded for
further proceedings to determine whether the application
qualified as patentable under other provisions. Id., at 997.
This Court granted certiorari. 556 U. S. ___ (2009).

Section 101 defines the subject matter that may be
patented under the Patent Act:

“Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful
process, machine, manufacture, or composition of
matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof,
may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions
and requirements of this title.”

Section 101 thus specifies four independent categories of
inventions or discoveries that are eligible for protection:
processes, machines, manufactures, and compositions of
matter. “In choosing such expansive terms . . . modified by
the comprehensive ‘any,’ Congress plainly contemplated
that the patent laws would be given wide scope.” Dia
mond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U. S. 303, 308 (1980). Congress
took this permissive approach to patent eligibility to en
sure that “ ‘ingenuity should receive a liberal encourage
ment.’ ” Id., at 308–309 (quoting 5 Writings of Thomas
Jefferson 75–76 (H. Washington ed. 1871)).

The Court’s precedents provide three specific exceptions
to §101’s broad patent-eligibility principles: “laws of na
ture, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas.” Chakra
barty, supra, at 309. While these exceptions are not re
quired by the statutory text, they are consistent with the
notion that a patentable process must be “new and useful.”
And, in any case, these exceptions have defined the reach
of the statute as a matter of statutory stare decisis going
back 150 years. See Le Roy v. Tatham, 14 How. 156, 174–
175 (1853). The concepts covered by these exceptions are
“part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men . . . free to
all men and reserved exclusively to none.” Funk Brothers
Seed Co. v. Kalo Inoculant Co., 333 U. S. 127, 130 (1948).

The §101 patent-eligibility inquiry is only a threshold
test. Even if an invention qualifies as a process, machine,
manufacture, or composition of matter, in order to receive
the Patent Act’s protection the claimed invention must
also satisfy “the conditions and requirements of this title.”
§101. Those requirements include that the invention be
novel, see §102, nonobvious, see §103, and fully and par
ticularly described, see §112.

The present case involves an invention that is claimed
to be a “process” under §101. Section 100(b) defines “proc
ess” as:

“process, art or method, and includes a new use of a
known process, machine, manufacture, composition of
matter, or material.”

The Court first considers two proposed categorical limita
tions on “process” patents under §101 that would, if
adopted, bar petitioners’ application in the present case:
the machine-or-transformation test and the categorical
exclusion of business method patents.

Under the Court of Appeals’ formulation, an invention is
a “process” only if: “(1) it is tied to a particular machine or
apparatus, or (2) it transforms a particular article into a
different state or thing.” 545 F. 3d, at 954. This Court
has “more than once cautioned that courts ‘should not read
into the patent laws limitations and conditions which the
legislature has not expressed.’ ” Diamond v. Diehr, 450
U. S. 175, 182 (1981) (quoting Chakrabarty, supra, at 308;
some internal quotation marks omitted). In patent law, as
in all statutory construction, “[u]nless otherwise defined,
‘words will be interpreted as taking their ordinary, con
temporary, common meaning.’ ” Diehr, supra, at 182
(quoting Perrin v. United States, 444 U. S. 37, 42 (1979)).
The Court has read the §101 term “manufacture” in accor
dance with dictionary definitions, see Chakrabarty, supra,
at 308 (citing American Fruit Growers, Inc. v. Brogdex Co.,
283 U. S. 1, 11 (1931)), and approved a construction of the
term “composition of matter” consistent with common
usage, see Chakrabarty, supra, at 308 (citing Shell Devel
opment Co. v. Watson, 149 F. Supp. 279, 280 (DC 1957)).

Any suggestion in this Court’s case law that the Patent
Act’s terms deviate from their ordinary meaning has only
been an explanation for the exceptions for laws of nature,
physical phenomena, and abstract ideas. See Parker v.
Flook, 437 U. S. 584, 588–589 (1978). This Court has not
indicated that the existence of these well-established
exceptions gives the Judiciary carte blanche to impose
other limitations that are inconsistent with the text and
the statute’s purpose and design. Concerns about at
tempts to call any form of human activity a “process” can
be met by making sure the claim meets the requirements
of §101.

Adopting the machine-or-transformation test as the sole
test for what constitutes a “process” (as opposed to just an
important and useful clue) violates these statutory inter
pretation principles. Section 100(b) provides that “[t]he
term ‘process’ means process, art or method, and includes
a new use of a known process, machine, manufacture,
composition of matter, or material.” The Court is unaware
of any “ ‘ordinary, contemporary, common meaning,’ ”
Diehr, supra, at 182, of the definitional terms “process, art
or method” that would require these terms to be tied to a
machine or to transform an article. Respondent urges the
Court to look to the other patentable categories in §101—
machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter—to
confine the meaning of “process” to a machine or trans
formation, under the doctrine of noscitur a sociis. Under
this canon, “an ambiguous term may be given more precise
content by the neighboring words with which it is associ
ated.” United States v. Stevens, 559 U. S. ___, ___ (2010)
(slip op., at 12) (internal quotation marks omitted). This
canon is inapplicable here, for §100(b) already explicitly
defines the term “process.” See Burgess v. United States,
553 U. S. 124, 130 (2008) (“When a statute includes an
explicit definition, we must follow that definition” (inter
nal quotation marks omitted)).

The Court of Appeals incorrectly concluded that this
Court has endorsed the machine-or-transformation test as
the exclusive test. It is true that Cochrane v. Deener, 94
U. S. 780, 788 (1877), explained that a “process” is “an act,
or a series of acts, performed upon the subject-matter to be
transformed and reduced to a different state or thing.”
More recent cases, however, have rejected the broad impli
cations of this dictum; and, in all events, later authority
shows that it was not intended to be an exhaustive or
exclusive test. Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U. S. 63, 70
(1972), noted that “[t]ransformation and reduction of an
article ‘to a different state or thing’ is the clue to the patentability of a process claim that does not include particular machines.” At the same time, it explicitly declined to
“hold that no process patent could ever qualify if it did not
meet [machine or transformation] requirements.” Id., at
71. Flook took a similar approach, “assum[ing] that a
valid process patent may issue even if it does not meet
[the machine-or-transformation test].” 437 U. S., at 588,
n. 9.

This Court’s precedents establish that the machine-or
transformation test is a useful and important clue, an
investigative tool, for determining whether some claimed
inventions are processes under §101. The machine-or
transformation test is not the sole test for deciding
whether an invention is a patent-eligible “process.”

It is true that patents for inventions that did not satisfy
the machine-or-transformation test were rarely granted in
earlier eras, especially in the Industrial Age, as explained
by Judge Dyk’s thoughtful historical review. See 545
F. 3d, at 966–976 (concurring opinion). But times change.
Technology and other innovations progress in unexpected
ways. For example, it was once forcefully argued that
until recent times, “well-established principles of patent
law probably would have prevented the issuance of a valid
patent on almost any conceivable computer program.”
Diehr, 450 U. S., at 195 (STEVENS, J., dissenting). But
this fact does not mean that unforeseen innovations such
as computer programs are always unpatentable. See id.,
at 192–193 (majority opinion) (holding a procedure for
molding rubber that included a computer program is
within patentable subject matter). Section 101 is a “dy
namic provision designed to encompass new and unfore
seen inventions.” J. E. M. Ag Supply, Inc. v. Pioneer Hi-
Bred Int’l, Inc., 534 U. S. 124, 135 (2001). A categorical
rule denying patent protection for “inventions in areas not
contemplated by Congress . . . would frustrate the pur
poses of the patent law.” Chakrabarty, 447 U. S., at 315.

The machine-or-transformation test may well provide a
sufficient basis for evaluating processes similar to those in
the Industrial Age—for example, inventions grounded in a
physical or other tangible form. But there are reasons to
doubt whether the test should be the sole criterion for
determining the patentability of inventions in the Infor
mation Age. As numerous amicus briefs argue, the ma
chine-or-transformation test would create uncertainty as
to the patentability of software, advanced diagnostic medi
cine techniques, and inventions based on linear program
ming, data compression, and the manipulation of digital
signals. See, e.g., Brief for Business Software Alliance 24–
25; Brief for Biotechnology Industry Organization et al.
14–27; Brief for Boston Patent Law Association 8–15;
Brief for Houston Intellectual Property Law Association
17–22; Brief for Dolby Labs., Inc., et al. 9–10.

In the course of applying the machine-or-transformation
test to emerging technologies, courts may pose questions
of such intricacy and refinement that they risk obscuring
the larger object of securing patents for valuable inven
tions without transgressing the public domain. The dis
sent by Judge Rader refers to some of these difficulties.
545 F. 3d, at 1015. As a result, in deciding whether previ
ously unforeseen inventions qualify as patentable “proc
ess[es],” it may not make sense to require courts to confine
themselves to asking the questions posed by the machine
or-transformation test. Section 101’s terms suggest that
new technologies may call for new inquiries. See Benson,
supra, at 71 (to “freeze process patents to old technologies,
leaving no room for the revelations of the new, onrushing
technology[,] . . . is not our purpose”).

It is important to emphasize that the Court today is not
commenting on the patentability of any particular inven
tion, let alone holding that any of the above-mentioned
technologies from the Information Age should or should
not receive patent protection. This Age puts the possibil
ity of innovation in the hands of more people and raises
new difficulties for the patent law. With ever more people
trying to innovate and thus seeking patent protections for
their inventions, the patent law faces a great challenge in
striking the balance between protecting inventors and not
granting monopolies over procedures that others would
discover by independent, creative application of general
principles. Nothing in this opinion should be read to take
a position on where that balance ought to be struck.

Section 101 similarly precludes the broad contention
that the term “process” categorically excludes business
methods. The term “method,” which is within §100(b)’s
definition of “process,” at least as a textual matter and
before consulting other limitations in the Patent Act and
this Court’s precedents, may include at least some meth
ods of doing business. See, e.g., Webster’s New Interna
tional Dictionary 1548 (2d ed. 1954) (defining “method” as
“[a]n orderly procedure or process . . . regular way or
manner of doing anything; hence, a set form of procedure
adopted in investigation or instruction”). The Court is
unaware of any argument that the “ ‘ordinary, contempo
rary, common meaning,’ ” Diehr, supra, at 182, of “method”
excludes business methods. Nor is it clear how far a pro
hibition on business method patents would reach, and
whether it would exclude technologies for conducting a
business more efficiently. See, e.g., Hall, Business and
Financial Method Patents, Innovation, and Policy, 56
Scottish J. Pol. Econ. 443, 445 (2009) (“There is no precise
definition of . . . business method patents”).

The argument that business methods are categorically
outside of §101’s scope is further undermined by the fact
that federal law explicitly contemplates the existence of at
least some business method patents. Under 35 U. S. C.
§273(b)(1), if a patent-holder claims infringement based on
“a method in [a] patent,” the alleged infringer can assert a
defense of prior use. For purposes of this defense alone,
“method” is defined as “a method of doing or conducting
business.” §273(a)(3). In other words, by allowing this
defense the statute itself acknowledges that there may be
business method patents. Section 273’s definition of
“method,” to be sure, cannot change the meaning of a
prior-enacted statute. But what §273 does is clarify the
understanding that a business method is simply one kind
of “method” that is, at least in some circumstances, eligible
for patenting under §101.

A conclusion that business methods are not patentable
in any circumstances would render §273 meaningless.
This would violate the canon against interpreting any
statutory provision in a manner that would render an
other provision superfluous. See Corley v. United States,
556 U. S. ___, ___ (2009) (slip op., at 9). This principle, of
course, applies to interpreting any two provisions in the
U. S. Code, even when Congress enacted the provisions at
different times. See, e.g., Hague v. Committee for Indus
trial Organization, 307 U. S. 496, 529–530 (1939) (opinion
of Stone, J.). This established rule of statutory interpreta
tion cannot be overcome by judicial speculation as to the
subjective intent of various legislators in enacting the
subsequent provision. Finally, while §273 appears to
leave open the possibility of some business method pat
ents, it does not suggest broad patentability of such
claimed inventions.

Interpreting §101 to exclude all business methods sim
ply because business method patents were rarely issued
until modern times revives many of the previously dis
cussed difficulties. See supra, at 8–9. At the same time,
some business method patents raise special problems in
terms of vagueness and suspect validity. See eBay Inc. v.
MercExchange, L. L. C., 547 U. S. 388, 397 (2006)
(KENNEDY, J., concurring). The Information Age empow
ers people with new capacities to perform statistical
analyses and mathematical calculations with a speed and
sophistication that enable the design of protocols for more
efficient performance of a vast number of business tasks.
If a high enough bar is not set when considering patent
applications of this sort, patent examiners and courts
could be flooded with claims that would put a chill on
creative endeavor and dynamic change.

In searching for a limiting principle, this Court’s prece
dents on the unpatentability of abstract ideas provide
useful tools. See infra, at 12–15. Indeed, if the Court of
Appeals were to succeed in defining a narrower category
or class of patent applications that claim to instruct how
business should be conducted, and then rule that the
category is unpatentable because, for instance, it repre
sents an attempt to patent abstract ideas, this conclusion
might well be in accord with controlling precedent. See
ibid. But beyond this or some other limitation consistent
with the statutory text, the Patent Act leaves open the
possibility that there are at least some processes that can
be fairly described as business methods that are within
patentable subject matter under §101.

Finally, even if a particular business method fits into
the statutory definition of a “process,” that does not mean
that the application claiming that method should be
granted. In order to receive patent protection, any
claimed invention must be novel, §102, nonobvious, §103,
and fully and particularly described, §112. These limita
tions serve a critical role in adjusting the tension, ever
present in patent law, between stimulating innovation by
protecting inventors and impeding progress by granting
patents when not justified by the statutory design.

III

Even though petitioners’ application is not categorically
outside of §101 under the two broad and atextual ap
proaches the Court rejects today, that does not mean it is
a “process” under §101. Petitioners seek to patent both
the concept of hedging risk and the application of that
concept to energy markets. App. 19–20. Rather than
adopting categorical rules that might have wide-ranging
and unforeseen impacts, the Court resolves this case
narrowly on the basis of this Court’s decisions in Benson,
Flook, and Diehr, which show that petitioners’ claims are
not patentable processes because they are attempts to
patent abstract ideas. Indeed, all members of the Court
agree that the patent application at issue here falls out
side of §101 because it claims an abstract idea.

In Benson, the Court considered whether a patent appli
cation for an algorithm to convert binary-coded decimal
numerals into pure binary code was a “process” under
§101. 409 U. S., at 64–67. The Court first explained that
“ ‘[a] principle, in the abstract, is a fundamental truth; an
original cause; a motive; these cannot be patented, as no
one can claim in either of them an exclusive right.’ ” Id., at
67 (quoting Le Roy, 14 How., at 175). The Court then held
the application at issue was not a “process,” but an unpat
entable abstract idea. “It is conceded that one may not
patent an idea. But in practical effect that would be the
result if the formula for converting . . . numerals to pure
binary numerals were patented in this case.” 409 U. S., at
71. A contrary holding “would wholly pre-empt the
mathematical formula and in practical effect would be a
patent on the algorithm itself.” Id., at 72.

In Flook, the Court considered the next logical step after
Benson. The applicant there attempted to patent a proce
dure for monitoring the conditions during the catalytic
conversion process in the petrochemical and oil-refining
industries. The application’s only innovation was reliance
on a mathematical algorithm. 437 U. S., at 585–586.
Flook held the invention was not a patentable “process.”
The Court conceded the invention at issue, unlike the
algorithm in Benson, had been limited so that it could still
be freely used outside the petrochemical and oil-refining
industries. 437 U. S., at 589–590. Nevertheless, Flook
rejected “[t]he notion that post-solution activity, no matter
how conventional or obvious in itself, can transform an
unpatentable principle into a patentable process.” Id., at
590. The Court concluded that the process at issue there
was “unpatentable under §101, not because it contain[ed]
a mathematical algorithm as one component, but because
once that algorithm [wa]s assumed to be within the prior
art, the application, considered as a whole, contain[ed] no
patentable invention.” Id., at 594. As the Court later
explained, Flook stands for the proposition that the prohi
bition against patenting abstract ideas “cannot be circum
vented by attempting to limit the use of the formula to a
particular technological environment” or adding “insignifi
cant postsolution activity.” Diehr, 450 U. S., at 191–192.

Finally, in Diehr, the Court established a limitation on
the principles articulated in Benson and Flook. The appli
cation in Diehr claimed a previously unknown method for
“molding raw, uncured synthetic rubber into cured preci
sion products,” using a mathematical formula to complete
some of its several steps by way of a computer. 450 U. S.,
at 177. Diehr explained that while an abstract idea, law of
nature, or mathematical formula could not be patented,
“an application of a law of nature or mathematical for
mula to a known structure or process may well be deserv
ing of patent protection.” Id., at 187. Diehr emphasized
the need to consider the invention as a whole, rather than
“dissect[ing] the claims into old and new elements and
then . . . ignor[ing] the presence of the old elements in the
analysis.” Id., at 188. Finally, the Court concluded that
because the claim was not “an attempt to patent a
mathematical formula, but rather [was] an industrial
process for the molding of rubber products,” it fell within
§101’s patentable subject matter. Id., at 192–193.

In light of these precedents, it is clear that petitioners’
application is not a patentable “process.” Claims 1 and 4
in petitioners’ application explain the basic concept of
hedging, or protecting against risk: “Hedging is a funda
mental economic practice long prevalent in our system of
commerce and taught in any introductory finance class.”
545 F. 3d, at 1013 (Rader, J., dissenting); see, e.g., D.
Chorafas, Introduction to Derivative Financial Instru
ments 75–94 (2008); C. Stickney, R. Weil, K. Schipper, &
J. Francis, Financial Accounting: An Introduction to Con
cepts, Methods, and Uses 581–582 (13th ed. 2010); S.
Ross, R. Westerfield, & B. Jordan, Fundamentals of Cor
porate Finance 743–744 (8th ed. 2008). The concept of
hedging, described in claim 1 and reduced to a mathemati
cal formula in claim 4, is an unpatentable abstract idea,
just like the algorithms at issue in Benson and Flook.
Allowing petitioners to patent risk hedging would pre
empt use of this approach in all fields, and would effec
tively grant a monopoly over an abstract idea.

Petitioners’ remaining claims are broad examples of how
hedging can be used in commodities and energy markets.
Flook established that limiting an abstract idea to one
field of use or adding token postsolution components did
not make the concept patentable. That is exactly what the
remaining claims in petitioners’ application do. These
claims attempt to patent the use of the abstract idea of
hedging risk in the energy market and then instruct the
use of well-known random analysis techniques to help
establish some of the inputs into the equation. Indeed,
these claims add even less to the underlying abstract
principle than the invention in Flook did, for the Flook
invention was at least directed to the narrower domain of
signaling dangers in operating a catalytic converter.

* * *

Today, the Court once again declines to impose limita
tions on the Patent Act that are inconsistent with the Act’s
text. The patent application here can be rejected under
our precedents on the unpatentability of abstract ideas.
The Court, therefore, need not define further what consti
tutes a patentable “process,” beyond pointing to the defini
tion of that term provided in §100(b) and looking to the
guideposts in Benson, Flook, and Diehr.

And nothing in today’s opinion should be read as endors
ing interpretations of §101 that the Court of Appeals for
the Federal Circuit has used in the past. See, e.g., State
Street, 149 F. 3d, at 1373; AT&T Corp., 172 F. 3d, at 1357.
It may be that the Court of Appeals thought it needed to
make the machine-or-transformation test exclusive pre
cisely because its case law had not adequately identified
less extreme means of restricting business method pat
ents, including (but not limited to) application of our
opinions in Benson, Flook, and Diehr. In disapproving an
exclusive machine-or-transformation test, we by no means
foreclose the Federal Circuit’s development of other limit
ing criteria that further the purposes of the Patent Act
and are not inconsistent with its text.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.
It is so ordered.