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In re Waldbaum (Waldbaum II)

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Citation Edit

In re Waldbaum, 457 F.2d 997, 173 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 430 (C.C.P.A. 1972) (full-text), superseded by, 559 F.2d 611, 194 U.S.P.Q. (BNA) 465 (C.C.P.A. 1977) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

This application related to a method for controlling the operation of a data processor to determine the number of 1's in a data word.

Appellate Proceedings Edit

The specification stated that there were numerous needs for such a method in computer controlled systems. A traffic study on telephone lines was given as an example. The court ruled that the process was useful in the internal operation of the computer system and hence a statutory process within the "useful arts," citing In re Benson and In re Musgrave. (In re Waldbaum (Waldbaum I.))

Between the first hearing and the second hearing, the Supreme Court decided Gottschalk v. Benson. The court, in this second opinion, held that the claims directed to a method for controlling the operation of a data processor and those directed to the new use of a stored program data processing apparatus were so abstract and sweeping as to cover both known and unknown uses of the claimed method, and thus "proscribed by Benson." A patent on such claims would, in effect, be a patent on the algorithm itself and would not define a statutory process.

In addition, the court held that the claims directed to methods specifically applied to counting busy and idle lines in a telephone system would, in effect, be a patent on the algorithm itself, citing In re Christensen.

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