Document Type



Diamond v. Diehr, 101 S. Ct. 1048 (1981).

Authority for Congress to enact the patent laws is found in the Constitution: “The Congress shall have power … to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for Limited times for Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” The patent laws are codified in title 35 of the United States Code.

The purpose behind patents is to advance knowledge. This is done in two ways. First, patents encourage inventions by offering exclusive enjoyment of the discovery for seventeen years. Second, patents add to the public knowledge. Patent applications disclose the discovery sufficiently to enable one skilled in the subject to duplicate the invention. This allows the invention to be duplicated upon expiration of the seventeen-year period. The patent system, therefore, provides only limited benefit to private individuals, primarily benefiting the public. To qualify for patent protection an invention must be patentable subject matter, new, useful, and non-obvious. Until recently most litigation involved the latter three requirements; however, a number of recent cases have attempted to define statutory subject matter., The increased interest in subject matter has resulted from attempts to patent computer software and inventions which incorporate software.

This note will discuss Diamond v. Diehr, the first United States Supreme Court decision to allow a patent on a process including a programmed digital computer.

Publication Date


Included in

Law Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.