This week's question concerns patent law. Traditionally, the courts have limited patent eligibility to inventions that involve machinery or physical transformations. Increasingly, innovations in the areas of software, medical diagnostics, and finance have raised questions concerning the eligibility of these inventions for patents because they may not deal directly with machinery or physical processes. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court heard the case of two individuals seeking patent protection for a business method of hedging risk in buying energy. On the opposing side, the attorney for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office argued that though innovative business techniques "may be valuable ... they are not patent eligible because they don't deal in the realm of the physical."
What do you think? Should business methods be eligible for patents?