It took me a while to get around to reading Prometheus’s brief to the Supreme Court in Mayo v. Prometheus Labs., No. 10-1150 (S. Ct. Oct. 31, 2011), because I was pretty sure how it would read and, in fact, there are no major surprises. Prometheus argues that their claims must be considered as a whole, and that section 101 does not categorically exclude processes that end by providing useful information – what I called a “thinking step” in an earlier post. Prometheus argues that “Mayo’s categorical rule that all claims must end with an action step would just multiply byzantine claim drafting…This Court has routinely recognized that patents can properly leave ample room for ‘the judgment of the operator.” Res. Brief at 35. Prometheus also reaches into the Bilski opinion for one of the few helpful quotations: “Nothing in Bilski was intended to ‘create uncertainty as to the patentability of …advanced diagnostic medicine techniques.’ [130 S. Ct. at 3227[ let alone all processes provided valuable information.” Res. brief at 36.
Prometheus also takes the reader along the well-worn path of Morse, Benson, Flook and Grams to argue that the monitoring patents do not preempt all practical use of any “relevant principle” but then neatly circles back to Tilghman, 102 U.S. at 709, to argue that the patent in question “wholly preempted the ‘natural phenomenon’ that water applied at high temperature and pressure would have the stated effect on fatty bodies. But it did not preempt the broader natural principle that high temperature and pressure tend to break chemical bonds, and it did not preclude the use of other methods to separate fat acids and glycerine from fatty bodies, such as sulfuric acid distillation or steam distillation.”