The heads of the Senate and House Intellectual Property Subcommittees recently released a draft bill focusing on reforming Section 101 of the Patent Act — the proposal is “intended to solicit feedback.” A number of hearings are beings scheduled over the course of the next month. What this means is that we have a substantial effort to make something happen.
The draft proposal:
(a) Whoever invents or discovers any useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any
new anduseful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.
(b) Eligibility under this section shall be determined only while considering the claimed invention as a whole, without discounting or disregarding any claim limitation.
Section 100 (Definitions):
(k) The term “useful” means any invention or discovery that provides specific and practical utility in any field of technology through human intervention.
(f) Functional Claim Elements
Element in Claim for a Combination— An element in a claim for a combination may beexpressed as a means or step for performinga specified function without the recital of structure, material, or acts in support thereof shall be construed to cover the corresponding structure, material, or acts described in the
specification and equivalents thereof.
The proposal also suggests further language be added to construe the statute “in favor of eligibility” and to expressly eliminate the non-statutory exceptions to eligibility.