Beyond Invention: Patent as Knowledge Law

39 Pages Posted: 23 Dec 2010 Last revised: 28 Nov 2014

See all articles by Michael J. Madison

Michael J. Madison

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

Date Written: December 19, 2010


The decision of the Supreme Court of the United States in Bilski v. Kappos, concerning the legal standard for determining patentable subject matter under the American Patent Act, is used as a starting point for a brief review of historical, philosophical, and cultural influences on subject matter questions in both patent and copyright law. The article suggests that patent and copyright law jurisprudence was constructed initially by the Court with explicit attention to the relationship between these forms of intellectual property law and the roles of knowledge in society. Over time, explicit attention to that relationship has largely disappeared from the Court’s opinions. The article suggests that renewing consideration of the idea of a law of knowledge would bring some clarity not only to patentable subject matter questions in particular but also to much of intellectual property law in general.

Keywords: Intellectual Property, Patent, Bilski, Patentable Subject Matter, Innovation, Invention, Knowledge, Learning

JEL Classification: K11, O31, O33, O34

Suggested Citation

Madison, Michael J., Beyond Invention: Patent as Knowledge Law (December 19, 2010). Lewis & Clark Law Review, Vol. 15, No. 1, p. 71, 2011, U. of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010-36, Available at SSRN:

Michael J. Madison (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

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