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In re Freeman

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Citation Edit

In re Freeman, 573 F.2d 1237, 197 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 464 (C.C.P.A. 1978) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

The application, entitled “Computer Typesetting,” was for a system for typesetting alphanumeric information, using a computer-based control system in conjunction with a phototypesetter of convention design.

The patent examiner cited In re Christensen[1] in rejecting the claims, as their only novelty resided in the algorithm and the attendant software. The Board of Appeals (“Board”) found Christensen inapposite, since Freeman’s invention involved more than a mere practice of an algorithm on data considered to be old and well known. The Board, however, entered a new rejection, based upon Gottschalk v. Benson[2] The Board reasoned that the novelty of the invention resided in the computer program, and that a patent on Freeman’s invention would, in effect be a patent on the algorithm itself.

C.C.P.A. Proceedings Edit

The C.C.P.A. reversed the Board, ruling that the claims indirectly recited an algorithm (i.e., there was no reference to a particular program), and that neither the apparatus claims nor the method claims pre-empted a mathematical algorithm. The C.C.P.A. found that the Board had improperly rejected the claim]s.


  1. 478 F.2d 1392, 178 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 35 (C.C.P.A. 1973) (full-text).
  2. 409 U.S. 63, 175 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 673 (1972) (full-text).

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