The Supreme Court’s Section 101 Jurisprudence: Dangers for the Innovation Economy

By Gene Quinn
December 1, 2016

interstate_sign_101Recent debates around patent policy have missed an important issue: Section 101 of the Patent Act. Since 2012, a series of U.S. Supreme Court decisions related to Section 101 have left innovators in the biotechnology and software industries unable to secure patent protections for many of their inventions. Since patents play a critical role in driving innovation, these decisions have potentially far-reaching implications for the U.S. economy.

Patents are the life blood for a technology based start-up. Making it harder, or in some cases impossible to obtain patents only makes the start-up journey more difficult than it needs to be; more difficult that is already is for these companies that produce high-paying jobs and revolutionary innovations for society.

To shed light on this issue, and on possible solutions, Inventing America and IPWatchdog will host a conference on Section 101, with remarks by U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and panel discussions on the impacts of the judicial interpretations and the corrections needed from policymakers. Participants will include industry leaders and patent law experts.

The conference will take place on Wednesday, December 7, 2016, from 8am to 12pm ET, at the offices of Covington & Burlington LLP in Washington, DC. Space is limited. If you would like to attend please RSVP to

The first panel is titled: Putting Innovation at Risk: How Judicial Interpretation of Section 101 Harms America’s Competitive Edge. The second panel, which I will moderate, is titled Restoring the Balance: How U.S. Policymakers and Courts Should Ensure that Section 101 Promotes American Innovation.


  • U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-DE)
  • Jeff Birchak, Associate General Counsel and VP, Fallbrook Technologies
  • Dr. Ananda M. Chakrabarty, Distinguished University Professor, University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago
  • Valerie Gaydos, Founder, Angel Venture Forum
  • David Kappos, Former Director, USPTO
  • Former U.S. Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
  • Jeff Lefstin, Professor, University of California Hastings College of Law
  • Amy Mills, Vice President for Intellectual Property, Juno Therapeutics
  • Robert P. Taylor, Founder, RPT Legal Strategies PC
  • Henry Hadad, SVP & Deputy General Counsel of IP, Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Honorable Paul Michel, Former Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • Adam Mossoff, Professor, Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University
  • Ami Patel Shah, Managing Director, Fortress Investment Group
  • Marian Underweiser, Senior Counsel – IBM Research IP Law, IBM


Covington & Burlington LLP
850 10th Street NW
Washington, DC 20268


The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and founder of Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and an attorney with Widerman Malek. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of Read more.

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