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The Ontological Function of the Patent Document

Andrew Chin

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Law

February 25, 2012

UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010987

With the passage and impending implementation of the “first-to-file” provisions of the America Invents Act of 2011, the U.S. patent system must rely more than ever before on patent documents for its own ontological commitments concerning the existence of claimed kinds of useful objects and processes. This Article provides a comprehensive description of the previously unrecognized function of the patent document in incurring and securing warrants to these ontological commitments, and the respective roles of legal doctrines and practices in the patent system’s ontological project. Among other contributions, the resulting metaphysical account serves to reconcile competing interpretations of the written description requirement that have emerged from the Federal Circuit’s recent jurisprudence, and to explain why the patent system is willing and able to examine, grant and enforce claims reciting theoretical entities. While this Article is entirely descriptive, it concludes by identifying promising normative and prescriptive implications of this work, including the formulation of an appropriate test for the patent-eligibility of software-implemented inventions in the post-Bilski era.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 69

Keywords: patents, written description, enablement, patentable subject matter, metaphysics

JEL Classification: O34

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Date posted: March 3, 2012  

Suggested Citation

Chin, Andrew, The Ontological Function of the Patent Document (February 25, 2012). UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2010987. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2010987 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2010987

Contact Information

Andrew Chin (Contact Author)
University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - School of Law ( email )
Van Hecke-Wettach Hall
100 Ridge Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States
919-962-4116 (Phone)

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