7 Wake Forest Intell. Prop. L.J. 251
The power of patents has always struck a tenuous balance between encouraging innovation and sanctioning monopolies. The tension becomes particularly poignant when the invention incorporates a judicial exception. This article focuses on the judicial exception for natural phenomena, which are facts of nature or elements that exist in nature and are merely objects of discovery and not invention.
This article focuses on the use of phenomena of nature in patents. Part I gives an overview of the Supreme Court’s recent decision to address these patents in Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings v. Metabolite Laboratories, Inc., followed by a sharp pivot and dismissal of the original grant of certiorari. Part II highlights the issues and concerns the public, academics, and practitioners have regarding patents that use phenomena of nature as part of a process or method. Part III discusses the current Supreme Court test and provides an analysis of an alternative test. Part IV concludes with a summary of why natural phenomena are still important elements in the patent system and the author’s opinion on how concern over their use should be addressed.