The Bilski Oral Argument

By Doug Lichtman

Posted on January 1, 2010


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The United States Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in a patent case called In Re Bilski.  At issue is the question of under what conditions an innovative process falls within the subject matter of patent law.  On one view, some processes should be excluded from the patent system because they involve no physical real-world step or because they are in other ways insufficiently concrete.  On another view, every process should be welcome in the patent regime, at least so long as the process otherwise satisfies patent law’s requirements of usefulness, novelty, non-obviousness, and the like.

The Bilski case has generated an enormous wealth of commentary, including eighty-odd amicus briefs, dozens of thoughtful articles, and hundreds of blog posts, CLE seminars, and the like.  This month, however, the folks at IP Colloquium take a different tack.  On the theory that one of the best ways to learn about the case is to listen to the arguments the parties actually made and the questions that Chief Justice Roberts and his colleagues actually posed, Professor Lichtman and his team decided to stage a dramatic reading of the Supreme Court oral argument transcript.  (And yes, everyone wanted to read the part of Justice Alito.)

The 60-minute recording of The Bilski Oral Argument is available online at IP Colloquium's Web site
.  And, as per usual, lawyers who listen can earn free CLE credit in California, New York, Texas, Illinois and several other states.


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