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While a scientific truth, or the mathematical expression of it, is not a patentable invention, a novel and useful structure created with the aid of knowledge of scientific truth may be.
Respondent inventors filed with petitioner Patent Office an application for an invention, which was described as being related to the processing of data by program and more particularly to the programmed conversion of numerical information in general-purpose digital computers. They purported to cover any use of the claimed method in a general-purpose digital computer of any type. Certain claims by the inventors were rejected by the Patent Office but sustained by the lower court.
Did the inventors’ method for converting numerical information from binary-coded decimal numbers into pure binary numbers, for use in programming conventional general-purpose digital computers constitute a patentable "process" within the meaning of the Patent Act, 35 U. S. C. § 100 (b)?
The United States Supreme Court held that the process claimed was so abstract and sweeping as to cover both known and unknown uses and therefore was an attempt to patent an idea, not an actual process. Therefore, the decision of the lower court was reversed and the inventors’ patent was not upheld on the contested claims.