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Sidney A. DIAMOND, v. Ananda M. CHAKRABARTY et al.
Syllabus Title 35 U.S.C. § 101 provides for the issuance of a patent to a person who invents or discovers "any" new and useful "manufacture" or "composition of matter." Respondent filed a patent application relating to his invention of a human-made, genetically engineered bacterium capable of breaking down crude oil, a property which is possessed by no naturally occurring bacteria. A patent examiner's rejection of the patent application's claims for the new bacteria was affirmed by the Patent Office Board of Appeals on the ground that living things are not patentable subject matter under § 101. The Court of Customs and Patent Appeals reversed, concluding that the fact that micro-organisms are alive is without legal significance for purposes of the patent law. Held: A live, human-made micro-organism is patentable subject matter under § 101. Respondent's micro-organism constitutes a "manufacture" or "composition of matter" within that statute. Pp. 308-318. (a) In choosing such expansive terms as "manufacture" and "composition of matter," modified by the comprehensive "any," Congress contemplated that the patent laws should be given wide scope, and the relevant legislative history also supports a broad construction. While laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas are not patentable, respondent's claim is not to a hitherto unknown natural phenomenon, but to a nonnaturally occurring manufacture or composition of matter—a product of human ingenuity "having a distinctive name, character [and] use." Hartranft v. Wiegmann, 121 U.S. 609, 615, 7 S.Ct. 1240, 1243, 30 L.Ed. 1012; Funk Brothers Seed Co. v. Kalo Inoculant Co., 333 U.S. 127, 68 S.Ct. 440, 92 L.Ed. 588, distinguished. Pp. 308-310. (b) The passage of the 1930 Plant Patent Act, which afforded patent protection to certain asexually reproduced plants, and the 1970 Plant Variety Protection Act, which authorized protection for certain sexually reproduced plants but excluded bacteria from its protection, does not evidence congressional understanding that the terms "manufacture" or "composition of matter" in § 101 do not include living things. Pp. 310-314. (c) Nor does the fact that genetic technology was unforeseen when Congress enacted § 101 require the conclusion that micro-organisms cannot qualify as patentable subject matter until Congress expressly authorizes such protection. The unambiguous language of § 101 fairly embraces respondent's invention. Arguments against patentability under § 101, based on potential hazards that may be generated by genetic research, should be addressed to the Congress and the Executive, not to the Judiciary. Pp. 314-318. 596 F.2d 952, affirmed. Lawrence G. Wallace, Washington, D. C., for petitioner. Edward F. McKie, Jr., Washington, D. C., for respondent. [Amicus Curiae Information from page 304 intentionally omitted] Mr. Chief Justice BURGER delivered the opinion of the Court. 1 We granted certiorari to determine whether a live, human-made micro-organism is patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. 2 * In 1972, respondent Chakrabarty, a microbiologist, filed a patent application, assigned to the General Electric Co. The application asserted 36 claims related to Chakrabarty's invention of "a bacterium from the genus Pseudomonas containing therein at least two stable energy-generating plasmids, each of said plasmids providing a separate hydrocarbon degradative pathway."1 This human-made, genetically engineered bacterium is capable of breaking down multiple components of crude oil. Because of this property, which is possessed by no naturally occurring bacteria, Chakrabarty's invention is believed to have significant value for the treatment of oil spills.2 3 Chakrabarty's patent claims were of three types: first, process claims for the method of producing the bacteria; second, claims for an inoculum comprised of a carrier material floating on water, such as straw, and the new bacteria; and third, claims to the bacteria themselves. The patent examiner allowed the claims falling into the first two categories, but rejected claims for the bacteria. His decision rested on two grounds: (1) that micro-organisms are "products of nature," and (2) that as living things they are not patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101. 4 Chakrabarty appealed the rejection of these claims to the Patent Office Board of Appeals, and the Board affirmed the Examiner on the second ground.3 Relying on the legislative history of the 1930 Plant Patent Act, in which Congress extended patent protection to certain asexually reproduced plants, the Board concluded that § 101 was not intended to cover living things such as these laboratory created micro-organisms. 5 The Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, by a divided vote, reversed on the authority of its prior decision in In re Bergy, 563 F.2d 1031, 1038 (1977), which held that "the fact that microorganisms . . . are alive . . . [is] without legal significance" for purposes of the patent law.4 Subsequently, we granted the Acting Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks' petition for certiorari in Bergy, vacated the judgment, and remanded the case "for further consideration in light of Parker v. Flook, 437 U.S. 584, [98 S.Ct. 2522, 57 L.Ed.2d 451] (1978)." 438 U.S. 902, 98 S.Ct. 3119, 57 L.Ed.2d 1145 (1978). The Court of Customs and Patent Appeals then vacated its judgment in Chakrabarty and consolidated the case with Bergy for reconsideration. After re-examining both cases in the light of our holding in Flook, that court, with one dissent, reaffirmed its earlier judgments. 596 F.2d 952 (1979). 6 The Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks again sought certiorari, and we granted the writ as to both Bergy and Chakrabarty. 444 U.S. 924, 100 S.Ct. 261, 62 L.Ed.2d 180 (1979). Since then, Bergy has been dismissed as moot, 444 U.S. 1028, 100 S.Ct. 696, 62 L.Ed.2d 664 (1980), leaving only Chakrabarty for decision. II 7 The Constitution grants Congress broad power to legislate to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." Art. I, § 8, cl. 8. The patent laws promote this progress by offering inventors exclusive rights for a limited period as an incentive for their inventiveness and research efforts. Kewanee Oil Co. v. Bicron Corp., 416 U.S. 470, 480-481, 94 S.Ct. 1879, 1885-1886, 40 L.Ed.2d 315 (1974); Universal Oil Co. v. Globe Co., 322 U.S. 471, 484, 64 S.Ct. 1110, 1116, 88 L.Ed. 1399 (1944). The authority of Congress is exercised in the hope that "[t]he productive effort thereby fostered will have a positive effect on society through the introduction of new products and processes of manufacture into the economy, and the emanations by way of increased employment and better lives for our citizens." Kewanee, supra, 416 U.S., at 480, 94 S.Ct., at 1885-86. 8 The question before us in this case is a narrow one of statutory interpretation requiring us to construe 35 U.S.C. § 101, which provides: 9 "Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title." 10 Specifically, we must determine whether respondent's micro-organism constitutes a "manufacture" or "composition of matter" within the meaning of the statute.5 III 11 In cases of statutory construction we begin, of course, with the language of the statute. Southeastern Community College v. Davis, 442 U.S. 397, 405, 99 S.Ct. 2361, 2366, 60 L.Ed.2d 980 (1979). And "unless otherwise defined, words will be interpreted as taking their ordinary, contemporary common meaning." Perrin v. United States, 444 U.S. 37, 42, 100 S.Ct. 311, 314, 62 L.Ed.2d 199 (1979). We have also cautioned that courts "should not read into the patent laws limitations and conditions which the legislature has not expressed." United States v. Dubilier Condenser Corp., 289 U.S. 178, 199, 53 S.Ct. 554, 561, 77 L.Ed. 1114 (1933). 12 Guided by these canons of construction, this Court has read the term "manufacture" in § 101 in accordance with its dictionary definition to mean "the production of articles for use from raw or prepared materials by giving to these materials new forms, qualities, properties, or combinations, whether by hand-labor or by machinery." American Fruit Growers, Inc. v. Brogdex Co., 283 U.S. 1, 11, 51 S.Ct. 328, 330, 75 L.Ed. 801 (1931). Similarly, "composition of matter" has been construed consistent with its common usage to include "all compositions of two or more substances and . . . all composite articles, whether they be the results of chemical union, or of mechanical mixture, or whether they be gases, fluids, powders or solids." Shell Development Co. v. Watson, 149 F.Supp. 279, 280 (D.C.1957) (citing 1 A. Deller, Walker on Patents § 14, p. 55 (1st ed. 1937)). In choosing such expansive terms as "manufacture" and "composition of matter," modified by the comprehensive "any," Congress plainly contemplated that the patent laws would be given wide scope. 13 The relevant legislative history also supports a broad construction. The Patent Act of 1793, authored by Thomas Jefferson, defined statutory subject matter as "any new and useful art, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new or useful improvement [thereof]." Act of Feb. 21, 1793, § 1, 1 Stat. 319. The Act embodied Jefferson's philosophy that "ingenuity should receive a liberal encouragement." 5 Writings of Thomas Jefferson 75-76 (Washington ed. 1871). See Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 7-10, 86 S.Ct. 684, 688-690, 15 L.Ed.2d 545 (1966). Subsequent patent statutes in 1836, 1870, and 1874 employed this same broad language. In 1952, when the patent laws were recodified, Congress replaced the word "art" with "process," but otherwise left Jefferson's language intact. The Committee Reports accompanying the 1952 Act inform us that Congress intended statutory subject matter to "include anything under the sun that is made by man." S.Rep.No.1979, 82d Cong., 2d Sess., 5 (1952); H.R.Rep.No.1923, 82d Cong., 2d Sess., 6 (1952).6 14 This is not to suggest that § 101 has no limits or that it embraces every discovery. The laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas have been held not patentable. See Parker v. Flook, 437 U.S. 584, 98 S.Ct. 2522, 57 L.Ed.2d 451 (1978); Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U.S. 63, 67, 93 S.Ct. 253, 255, 34 L.Ed.2d 273 (1972); Funk Brothers Seed Co. v. Kalo Inoculant Co., 333 U.S. 127, 130, 68 S.Ct. 440, 441, 92 L.Ed. 588 (1948); O'Reilly v. Morse, 15 How. 62, 112-121, 14 L.Ed. 601 (1854); Le Roy v. Tatham, 14 How. 156, 175, 14 L.Ed. 367 (1853). Thus, a new mineral discovered in the earth or a new plant found in the wild is not patentable subject matter. Likewise, Einstein could not patent his celebrated law that E=mc2; nor could Newton have patented the law of gravity. Such discoveries are "manifestations of . . . nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." Funk, supra, 333 U.S., at 130, 68 S.Ct., at 441. 15 Judged in this light, respondent's micro-organism plainly qualifies as patentable subject matter. His claim is not to a hitherto unknown natural phenomenon, but to a nonnaturally occurring manufacture or composition of matter—a product of human ingenuity "having a distinctive name, character [and] use." Hartranft v. Wiegmann, 121 U.S. 609, 615, 7 S.Ct. 1240, 1243, 30 L.Ed. 1012 (1887). The point is underscored dramatically by comparison of the invention here with that in Funk. There, the patentee had discovered that there existed in nature certain species of root-nodule bacteria which did not exert a mutually inhibitive effect on each other. He used that discovery to produce a mixed culture capable of inoculating the seeds of leguminous plants. Concluding that the patentee had discovered "only some of the handiwork of nature," the Court ruled the product nonpatentable: 16 "Each of the species of root-nodule bacteria contained in the package infects the same group of leguminous plants which it always infected. No species acquires a different use. The combination of species produces no new bacteria, no change in the six species of bacteria, and no enlargement of the range of their utility. Each species has the same effect it always had. The bacteria perform in their natural way. Their use in combination does not improve in any way their natural functioning. They serve the ends nature originally provided and act quite independently of any effort of the patentee." 333 U.S., at 131, 68 S.Ct., at 442. 17 Here, by contrast, the patentee has produced a new bacterium with markedly different characteristics from any found in nature and one having the potential for significant utility. His discovery is not nature's handiwork, but his own; accordingly it is patentable subject matter under § 101. IV 18 Two contrary arguments are advanced, neither of which we find persuasive. 19 (A) 20 The petitioner's first argument rests on the enactment of the 1930 Plant Patent Act, which afforded patent protection to certain asexually reproduced plants, and the 1970 Plant Variety Protection Act, which authorized protection for certain sexually reproduced plants but excluded bacteria from its protection.7 In the petitioner's view, the passage of these Acts evidences congressional understanding that the terms "manufacture" or "composition of matter" do not include living things; if they did, the petitioner argues, neither Act would have been necessary. 21 We reject this argument. Prior to 1930, two factors were thought to remove plants from patent protection. The first was the belief that plants, even those artificially bred, were products of nature for purposes of the patent law. This position appears to have derived from the decision of the patent office in Ex parte Latimer, 1889 Dec.Com.Pat. 123, in which a patent claim for fiber found in the needle of the Pinus australis was rejected. The Commissioner reasoned that a contrary result would permit "patents [to] be obtained upon the trees of the forest and the plants of the earth, which of course would be unreasonable and impossible." Id., at 126. The Latimer case, it seems, came to "se[t] forth the general stand taken in these matters" that plants were natural products not subject to patent protection. Thorne, Relation of Patent Law to Natural Products, 6 J. Pat.Off.Soc. 23, 24 (1923).8 The second obstacle to patent protection for plants was the fact that plants were thought not amenable to the "written description" requirement of the patent law. See 35 U.S.C. § 112. Because new plants may differ from old only in color or perfume, differentiation by written description was often impossible. See Hearings on H.R.11372 before the House Committee on Patents, 71st Cong., 2d Sess. 7 (1930) (memorandum of Patent Commissioner Robertson). 22 In enacting the Plant Patent Act, Congress addressed both of these concerns. It explained at length its belief that the work of the plant breeder "in aid of nature" was patentable invention. S.Rep.No.315, 71st Cong., 2d Sess., 6-8 (1930); H.R.Rep.No.1129, 71st Cong., 2d Sess., 7-9 (1930). And it relaxed the written description requirement in favor of "a description . . . as complete as is reasonably possible." 35 U.S.C. § 162. No Committee or Member of Congress, however, expressed the broader view, now urged by the petitioner, that the terms "manufacture" or "composition of matter" exclude living things. The sole support for that position in the legislative history of the 1930 Act is found in the conclusory statement of Secretary of Agriculture Hyde, in a letter to the Chairmen of the House and Senate Committees considering the 1930 Act, that "the patent laws . . . at the present time are understood to cover only inventions or discoveries in the field of inanimate nature." See S.Rep.No.315, supra, at Appendix A; H.R.Rep.No.1129, supra, at Appendix A. Secretary Hyde's opinion, however, is not entitled to controlling weight. His views were solicited on the administration of the new law and not on the scope of patentable subject matter—an area beyond his competence. Moreover, there is language in the House and Senate Committee Reports suggesting that to the extent Congress considered the matter it found the Secretary's dichotomy unpersuasive. The Reports observe: 23 "There is a clear and logical distinction between the discovery of a new variety of plant and of certain inanimate things, such, for example, as a new and useful natural mineral. The mineral is created wholly by nature unassisted by man. . . . On the other hand, a plant discovery resulting from cultivation is unique, isolated, and is not repeated by nature, nor can it be reproduced by nature unaided by man. . . . " S.Rep.No.315, supra, at 6; H.R.Rep.No.1129,supra, at 7 (emphasis added). 24 Congress thus recognized that the relevant distinction was not between living and inanimate things, but between products of nature, whether living or not, and human-made inventions. Here, respondent's micro-organism is the result of human ingenuity and research. Hence, the passage of the Plant Patent Act affords the Government no support. 25 Nor does the passage of the 1970 Plant Variety Protection Act support the Government's position. As the Government acknowledges, sexually reproduced plants were not included under the 1930 Act because new varieties could not be reproduced true-to-type through seedlings. Brief for Petitioner 27, n. 31. By 1970, however, it was generally recognized that true-to-type reproduction was possible and that plant patent protection was therefore appropriate. The 1970 Act extended that protection. There is nothing in its language or history to suggest that it was enacted because § 101 did not include living things. 26 In particular, we find nothing in the exclusion of bacteria from plant variety protection to support the petitioner's position. See n. 7, supra. The legislative history gives no reason for this exclusion. As the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals suggested, it may simply reflect congressional agreement with the result reached by that court in deciding In re Arzberger, 27 C.C.P.A. (Pat.) 1315, 112 F.2d 834 (1940), which held that bacteria were not plants for the purposes of the 1930 Act. Or it may reflect the fact that prior to 1970 the Patent Office had issued patents for bacteria under § 101.9 In any event, absent some clear indication that Congress "focused on [the] issues . . . directly related to the one presently before the Court," SEC v. Sloan, 436 U.S. 103, 120-121, 98 S.Ct. 1702, 1713, 56 L.Ed.2d 148 (1978), there is no basis for reading into its actions an intent to modify the plain meaning of the words found in § 101. See TVA v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153, 189-193, 98 S.Ct. 2279, 2299-2301, 57 L.Ed.2d 117 (1978); United States v. Price, 361 U.S. 304, 313, 80 S.Ct. 326, 331, 4 L.Ed.2d 334 (1960). 27 (B) 28 The petitioner's second argument is that micro-organisms cannot qualify as patentable subject matter until Congress expressly authorizes such protection. His position rests on the fact that genetic technology was unforeseen when Congress enacted § 101. From this it is argued that resolution of the patentability of inventions such as respondent's should be left to Congress. The legislative process, the petitioner argues, is best equipped to weigh the competing economic, social, and scientific considerations involved, and to determine whether living organisms produced by genetic engineering should receive patent protection. In support of this position, the petitioner relies on our recent holding in Parker v. Flook, 437 U.S. 584, 98 S.Ct. 2522, 57 L.Ed.2d 451 (1978), and the statement that the judiciary "must proceed cautiously when . . . asked to extend patent rights into areas wholly unforeseen by Congress." Id., at 596, 98 S.Ct. at 2529. 29 It is, of course, correct that Congress, not the courts, must define the limits of patentability; but it is equally true that once Congress has spoken it is "the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is." Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 177, 2 L.Ed. 60 (1803). Congress has performed its constitutional role in defining patentable subject matter in § 101; we perform ours in construing the language Congress has employed. In so doing, our obligation is to take statutes as we find them, guided, if ambiguity appears, by the legislative history and statutory purpose. Here, we perceive no ambiguity. The subject-matter provisions of the patent law have been cast in broad terms to fulfill the constitutional and statutory goal of promoting "the Progress of Science and the useful Arts" with all that means for the social and economic benefits envisioned by Jefferson. Broad general language is not necessarily ambiguous when congressional objectives require broad terms. 30 Nothing in Flook is to the contrary. That case applied our prior precedents to determine that a "claim for an improved method of calculation, even when tied to a specific end use, is unpatentable subject matter under § 101." 437 U.S., at 595, n. 18, 98 S.Ct., at 2528, n. 18. The Court carefully scrutinized the claim at issue to determine whether it was precluded from patent protection under "the principles underlying the prohibition against patents for 'ideas' or phenomena of nature." Id., at 593, 98 S.Ct. at 2527. We have done that here. Flook did not announce a new principle that inventions in areas not contemplated by Congress when the patent laws were enacted are unpatentable per se. 31 To read that concept into Flook would frustrate the purposes of the patent law. This Court frequently has observed that a statute is not to be confined to the "particular application[s] . . . contemplated by the legislators." Barr v. United States, 324 U.S. 83, 90, 65 S.Ct. 522, 525, 89 L.Ed. 765 (1945). Accord, Browder v. United States, 312 U.S. 335, 339, 61 S.Ct. 599, 601, 85 L.Ed. 862 (1941); Puerto Rico v. Shell Co., 302 U.S. 253, 257, 58 S.Ct. 167, 169, 82 L.Ed. 235 (1937). This is especially true in the field of patent law. A rule that unanticipated inventions are without protection would conflict with the core concept of the patent law that anticipation undermines patentability. See Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S., at 12-17, 86 S.Ct., at 691-693. Mr. Justice Douglas reminded that the inventions most benefiting mankind are those that "push back the frontiers of chemistry, physics, and the like." Great A. & P. Tea Co. v. Supermarket Corp., 340 U.S. 147, 154, 71 S.Ct. 127, 131, 95 L.Ed. 162 (1950) (concurring opinion). Congress employed broad general language in drafting § 101 precisely because such inventions are often unforeseeable.10 32 To buttress his argument, the petitioner, with the support of amicus, points to grave risks that may be generated by research endeavors such as respondent's. The briefs present a gruesome parade of horribles. Scientists, among them Nobel laureates, are quoted suggesting that genetic research may pose a serious threat to the human race, or, at the very least, that the dangers are far too substantial to permit such research to proceed apace at this time. We are told that genetic research and related technological developments may spread pollution and disease, that it may result in a loss of genetic diversity, and that its practice may tend to depreciate the value of human life. These arguments are forcefully, even passionately, presented; they remind us that, at times, human ingenuity seems unable to control fully the forces it creates—that with Hamlet, it is sometimes better "to bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of." 33 It is argued that this Court should weigh these potential hazards in considering whether respondent's invention is patentable subject matter under § 101. We disagree. The grant or denial of patents on micro-organisms is not likely to put an end to genetic research or to its attendant risks. The large amount of research that has already occurred when no researcher had sure knowledge that patent protection would be available suggests that legislative or judicial fiat as to patentability will not deter the scientific mind from probing into the unknown any more than Canute could command the tides. Whether respondent's claims are patentable may determine whether research efforts are accelerated by the hope of reward or slowed by want of incentives, but that is all. 34 What is more important is that we are without competence to entertain these arguments—either to brush them aside as fantasies generated by fear of the unknown, or to act on them. The choice we are urged to make is a matter of high policy for resolution within the legislative process after the kind of investigation, examination, and study that legislative bodies can provide and courts cannot. That process involves the balancing of competing values and interests, which in our democratic system is the business of elected representatives. Whatever their validity, the contentions now pressed on us should be addressed to the political branches of the Government, the Congress and the Executive, and not to the courts.11 35 We have emphasized in the recent past that "[o]ur individual appraisal of the wisdom or unwisdom of a particular [legislative] course . . . is to be put aside in the process of interpreting a statute." TVA v. Hill, 437 U.S., at 194, 98 S.Ct., at 2302. Our task, rather, is the narrow one of determining what Congress meant by the words it used in the statute; once that is done our powers are exhausted. Congress is free to amend § 101 so as to exclude from patent protection organisms produced by genetic engineering. Cf. 42 U.S.C. § 2181(a), exempting from patent protection inventions "useful solely in the utilization of special nuclear material or atomic energy in an atomic weapon." Or it may chose to craft a statute specifically designed for such living things. But, until Congress takes such action, this Court must construe the language of § 101 as it is. The language of that section fairly embraces respondent's invention. 36 Accordingly, the judgment of the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals is 37 Affirmed. 38 Mr. Justice BRENNAN, with whom Mr. Justice WHITE, Mr. Justice MARSHALL, and Mr. Justice POWELL join, dissenting. 39 I agree with the Court that the question before us is a narrow one. Neither the future of scientific research, nor even, the ability of respondent Chakrabarty to reap some monopoly profits from his pioneering work, is at stake. Patents on the processes by which he has produced and employed the new living organism are not contested. The only question we need decide is whether Congress, exercising its authority under Art. I, § 8, of the Constitution, intended that he be able to secure a monopoly on the living organism itself, no matter how produced or how used. Because I believe the Court has misread the applicable legislation, I dissent. 40 The patent laws attempt to reconcile this Nation's deep seated antipathy to monopolies with the need to encourage progress. Deepsouth Packing Co. v. Laitram Corp., 406 U.S. 518, 530-531, 92 S.Ct. 1700, 1707-1708, 32 L.Ed.2d 273 (1972); Graham v. John Deere Co., 383 U.S. 1, 7-10, 86 S.Ct. 684, 668-690, 15 L.Ed.2d 545 (1966). Given the complexity and legislative nature of this delicate task, we must be careful to extend patent protection no further than Congress has provided. In particular, were there an absence of legislative direction, the courts should leave to Congress the decisions whether and how far to extend the patent privilege into areas where the common understanding has been that patents are not available.1 Cf. Deepsouth Packing Co. v. Laitram Corp., supra. 41 In this case, however, we do not confront a complete legislative vacuum. The sweeping language of the Patent Act of 1793, as re-enacted in 1952, is not the last pronouncement Congress has made in this area. In 1930 Congress enacted the Plant Patent Act affording patent protection to developers of certain asexually reproduced plants. In 1970 Congress enacted the Plant Variety Protection Act to extend protection to certain new plant varieties capable of sexual reproduction. Thus, we are not dealing—as the Court would have it—with the routine problem of "unanticipated inventions." Ante, at 316. In these two Acts Congress has addressed the general problem of patenting animate inventions and has chosen carefully limited language granting protection to some kinds of discoveries, but specifically excluding others. These Acts strongly evidence a congressional limitation that excludes bacteria from patentability.2 42 First, the Acts evidence Congress' understanding, at least since 1930, that § 101 does not include living organisms. If newly developed living organisms not naturally occurring had been patentable under § 101, the plants included in the scope of the 1930 and 1970 Acts could have been patented without new legislation. Those plants, like the bacteria involved in this case, were new varieties not naturally occurring.3 Although the Court, ante, at 311, rejects this line of argument, it does not explain why the Acts were necessary unless to correct a pre-existing situation.4 I cannot share the Court's implicit assumption that Congress was engaged in either idle exercises or mere correction of the public record when it enacted the 1930 and 1970 Acts. And Congress certainly thought it was doing something significant. The Committee Reports contain expansive prose about the previously unavailable benefits to be derived from extending patent protection to plants.5 H.R. Rep. No. 91-1605, pp. 1-3 (1970), U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News 1970, p. 5082; S.Rep.No.315, 71st Cong., 2d Sess., 1-3 (1930). Because Congress thought it had to legislate in order to make agricultural "human-made inventions" patentable and because the legislation Congress enacted is limited, it follows that Congress never meant to make items outside the scope of the legislation patentable. 43 Second, the 1970 Act clearly indicates that Congress has included bacteria within the focus of its legislative concern, but not within the scope of patent protection. Congress specifically excluded bacteria from the coverage of the 1970 Act. 7 U.S.C. § 2402(a). The Court's attempts to supply explanations for this explicit exclusion ring hollow. It is true that there is no mention in the legislative history of the exclusion, but that does not give us license to invent reasons. The fact is that Congress, assuming that animate objects as to which it had not specifically legislated could not be patented, excluded bacteria from the set of patentable organisms. 44 The Court protests that its holding today is dictated by the broad language of § 101, which cannot "be confined to the 'particular application[s] . . . contemplated by the legislators.' " Ante, at 315, quoting Barr v. United States, 324 U.S. 83, 90, 65 S.Ct. 522, 525, 89 L.Ed. 765 (1945). But as I have shown, the Court's decision does not follow the unavoidable implications of the statute. Rather, it extends the patent system to cover living material even though Congress plainly has legislated in the belief that § 101 does not encompass living organisms. It is the role of Congress, not this Court, to broaden or narrow the reach of the patent laws. This is especially true where, as here, the composition sought to be patented uniquely implicates matters of public concern. 1 Plasmids are hereditary units physically separate from the chromosomes of the cell. In prior research, Chakrabarty and an associate discovered that plasmids control the oil degradation abilities of certain bacteria. In particular, the two researchers discovered plasmids capable of degrading camphor and octane, two components of crude oil. In the work represented by the patent application at issue here, Chakrabarty discovered a process by which four different plasmids, capable of degrading four different oil components, could be transferred to and maintained stably in a single Pseudomonas bacterium, which itself has no capacity for degrading oil. 2 At present, biological control of oil spills requires the use of a mixture of naturally occurring bacteria, each capable of degrading one component of the oil complex. In this way, oil is decomposed into simpler substances which can serve as food for aquatic life. However, for various reasons, only a portion of any such mixed culture survives to attack the oil spill. By breaking down multiple components of oil, Chakrabarty's micro-organism promises more efficient and rapid oil-spill control. 3 The Board concluded that the new bacteria were not "products of nature," because Pseudomonas bacteria containing two or more different energy-generating plasmids are not naturally occurring. 4 Bergy involved a patent application for a pure culture of the micro-organism Streptomyces vellosus found to be useful in the production of lincomycin, an antibiotic. 5 This case does not involve the other "conditions and requirements" of the patent laws, such as novelty and nonobviousness. 35 U.S.C. §§ 102, 103. 6 This same language was employed by P. J. Federico, a principal draftsman of the 1952 recodification, in his testimony regarding that legislation: "[U]nder section 101 a person may have invented a machine or a manufacture, which may include anything under the sun that is made by man. . . . " Hearings on H.R. 3760 before Subcommittee No. 3 of the House Committee on the Judiciary, 82d Cong., 1st Sess., 37 (1951). 7 The Plant Patent Act of 1930, 35 U.S.C. § 161, provides in relevant part: "Whoever invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant, including cultivated sports, mutants, hybrids, and newly found seedlings, other than a tuber propogated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state, may obtain a patent therefor . . . ." The Plant Variety Protection Act of 1970, provides in relevant part: "The breeder of any novel variety of sexually reproduced plant (other than fungi, bacteria, or first generation hybrids) who has so reproduced the variety, or his successor in interest, shall be entitled to plant variety protection therefor . . . ." 84 Stat. 1547, 7 U.S.C. § 2402(a). See generally, 3 A. Deller, Walker on Patents, ch. IX (2d ed. 1964); R. Allyn, The First Plant Patents (1934). 8 Writing three years after the passage of the 1930 Act, R. Cook, Editor of the Journal of Heredity, commented: "It is a little hard for plant men to understand why [Art. I, § 8] of the Constitution should not have been earlier construed to include the promotion of the art of plant breeding. The reason for this is probably to be found in the principle that natural products are not patentable." Florists Exchange and Horticultural Trade World, July 15, 1933, p. 9. 9 In 1873, the Patent Office granted Louis Pasteur a patent on "yeast, free from organic germs of disease, as an article of manufacture." And in 1967 and 1968, immediately prior to the passage of the Plant Variety Protection Act, that Office granted two patents which, as the petitioner concedes, state claims for living micro-organisms. See Reply Brief for Petitioner 3, and n. 2. 10 Even an abbreviated list of patented inventions underscores the point: telegraph (Morse, No. 1,647); telephone (Bell, No. 174,465); electric lamp (Edison, No. 223,898); airplane (the Wrights, No. 821,393); transistor (Bardeen & Brattain, No. 2,524,035); neutronic reactor (Fermi & Szilard, No. 2,708,656); laser (Schawlow & Townes, No. 2,929,922). See generally Revolutionary Ideas, Patents & Progress in America, United States Patent and Trademark Office (1976). 11 We are not to be understood as suggesting that the political branches have been laggard in the consideration of the problems related to genetic research and technology. They have already taken action. In 1976, for example, the National Institutes of Health released guidelines for NIH-sponsored genetic research which established conditions under which such research could be performed. 41 Fed.Reg. 27902. In 1978 those guidelines were revised and relaxed. 43 Fed.Reg. 60080, 60108, 60134. And Committees of the Congress have held extensive hearings on these matters. See, e. g., Hearings on Genetic Engineering before the Subcommittee on Health of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. (1975); Hearings before the Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, 95th Cong., 1st Sess. (1977); Hearings on H.R. 4759 et al. before the Subcommittee on Health and the Environment of the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, 95th Cong., 1st Sess. (1977). 1 I read the Court to admit that the popular conception, even among advocates of agricultural patents, was that living organisms were unpatentable. See ante, at 311-312, and n. 8. 2 But even if I agreed with the Court that the 1930 and 1970 Acts were not dispositive, I would dissent. This case presents even more cogent reasons than Deepsouth Packing Co. not to extend the patent monopoly in the face of uncertainty. At the very least, these Acts are signs of legislative attention to the problems of patenting living organisms, but they give no affirmative indication of congressional intent that bacteria be patentable. The caveat of Parker v. Flook, 437 U.S. 584, 596, 90 S.Ct. 2522, 2529, 57 L.Ed.2d 451 (1978), an admonition to "proceed cautiously when we are asked to extend patent rights into areas wholly unforeseen by Congress," therefore becomes pertinent. I should think the necessity for caution is that much greater when we are asked to extend patent rights into areas Congress has foreseen and considered but has not resolved. 3 The Court refers to the logic employed by Congress in choosing not to perpetuate the "dichotomy" suggested by Secretary Hyde. Ante, at 313. But by this logic the bacteria at issue here are distinguishable from a "mineral . . . created wholly by nature" in exactly the same way as were the new varieties of plants. If a new Act was needed to provide patent protection for the plants, it was equally necessary for bacteria. Yet Congress provided for patents on plants but not on these bacteria. In short, Congress decided to make only a subset of animate "human-made inventions," ibid., patentable. 4 If the 1930 Act's only purpose were to solve the technical problem of description referred to by the Court, ante, at 312, most of the Act, and in particular its limitation to asexually reproduced plants, would have been totally unnecessary. 5 Secretary Hyde's letter was not the only explicit indication in the legislative history of these Acts that Congress was acting on the assumption that legislation was necessary to make living organisms patentable. The Senate Judiciary Committee Report on the 1970 Act states the Committee's understanding that patent protection extended no further than the explicit provisions of these Acts: "Under the patent law, patent protection is limited to those varieties of plants which reproduce asexually, that is, by such methods as grafting or budding. No protection is available to those varieties of plants which reproduce sexually, that is, generally by seeds." S.Rep.No.91-1246, p. 3 (1970). Similarly, Representative Poage, speaking for the 1970 Act, after noting the protection accorded asexually developed plants, stated that "for plants produced from seed, there has been no such protection." 116 Cong.Rec. 40295 (1970).BONITO BOATS, INC. v. THUNDER CRAFT BOATS, INC., Argued: December 5, 1988 Decided: February 21, 1989 Petitioner developed a hull design for a fiberglass recreational boat that it marketed under the trade name Bonito Boat Model 5VBR. The manufacturing process involved creating a hardwood model that was then sprayed with fiberglass to create a mold. The mold then served to produce the finished fiberglass boats for sale. No patent application was filed to protect the utilitarian or design aspects of the hull or the manufacturing process by which the finished boats were produced. After the Bonito 5VBR had been on the market for six years, the Florida Legislature enacted a statute that prohibits the use of a direct molding process to duplicate unpatented boat hulls, and forbids the knowing sale of hulls so duplicated. Petitioner subsequently filed an action in a Florida Circuit Court, alleging that respondent had violated the statute by using the direct molding process to duplicate the Bonito 5VBR fiberglass hull and by knowingly selling such duplicates. Petitioner sought damages, injunctive relief, and an award of attorney's fees under the Florida law. The trial court granted respondent's motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the statute conflicted with federal patent law and was therefore invalid under the Supremacy Clause of the Federal Constitution. The Florida Court of Appeals and the Florida Supreme Court affirmed. Held: The Florida statute is pre-empted by the Supremacy Clause. Pp. 146-168. (a) This Court's decisions have made clear that state regulation of intellectual property must yield to the extent that it clashes with the federal patent statute's balance between public right and private monopoly designed to promote certain creative activity. The efficient operation of the federal patent system depends upon substantially free trade in publicly known, unpatented design and utilitarian conceptions. Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Stiffel Co., 376 U.S. 225 ; Compco Corp. v. Day-Brite Lighting, Inc., 376 U.S. 234 . A state law that interferes with the enjoyment of such a conception contravenes the ultimate goal of public disclosure and use that is the centerpiece of federal patent policy. Moreover, through the creation of patent-like rights, the States could essentially redirect inventive efforts away from the careful criteria of patentability developed by Congress over the last 200 years. Pp. 146-157. [489 U.S. 141, 142] (b) By offering patent-like protection for ideas deemed unprotected under the federal patent scheme, the Florida statute conflicts with the "strong federal policy favoring free competition in ideas which do not merit patent protection." Lear, Inc. v. Adkins, 395 U.S. 653, 656 . The Florida statute does not prohibit "unfair competition" in the usual sense of that term, but rather is aimed at promoting inventive effort by preventing the efficient exploitation of the design and utilitarian conceptions embodied in the product itself. It endows the original boat manufacturer with rights against the world, similar in scope and operation to the rights accorded the federal patentee. This protection is made available for an unlimited number of years to all boat hulls and their component parts. Protection is available for subject matter for which patent protection has been denied or has expired, as well as for designs which have been freely revealed to the consuming public by their creators. In this case, the statute operates to allow petitioner to assert a substantial property right in a design idea which has already been available to the public for over six years. Pp. 157-160. (c) That the Florida statute does not restrict all means of reproduction does not eliminate the conflict with the federal patent scheme. In essence, the statute grants the original manufacturer the right to prohibit a form of reverse engineering of a product in general circulation. This is one of the rights granted to the federal patent holder, but has never been part of state protection under the law of unfair competition or trade secrets. The study and recomposition of unpatented articles available to the public at large may lead to significant advances in technology and design. Moreover, the threat of reverse engineering of unpatented articles creates a significant spur to the achievement of the rigorous standards of patentability established by Congress. By substantially altering this competitive reality, the Florida statute and similar state laws may erect themselves as substantial competitors to the federal patent scheme. Such a result would contravene the congressional intent to create a uniform system for determining the boundaries of public and private right in utilitarian and design ideas. Kewanee Oil Co. v. Bicron Corp., 416 U.S. 470 , distinguished. Pp. 160-165. (d) The Patent and Copyright Clauses of the Federal Constitution do not by their own force, or by negative implication, deprive the States of the power to adopt rules to promote intellectual creation within their own jurisdictions where Congress has left the field free of federal regulation. Goldstein v. California, 412 U.S. 546 . Even as to design and utilitarian conceptions within the subject matter of the patent laws, the States may place limited regulations on the exploitation of unpatented ideas to prevent consumer confusion as to source or the tortious appropriation of trade secrets. Both the law of unfair competition and state trade secret law have coexisted harmoniously with federal patent protection [489 U.S. 141, 143] for almost 200 years, and Congress has demonstrated its full awareness of the operation of state law in these areas without any indication of disapproval. Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee Corp., 464 U.S. 238 . The same cannot be said of the Florida scheme at issue here, where Congress has explicitly considered the need for additional protections for industrial designs and declined to act. By according patent-like protection to the otherwise unprotected design and utilitarian aspects of products in general circulation, the Florida statute enters a field of regulation which the patent laws have reserved to Congress and is therefore pre-empted by the Supremacy Clause of the Federal Constitution. Pp. 165-168. 515 So.2d 220, affirmed. O'CONNOR, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. Tomas Morgan Russell argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Granger Cook, Jr., and John S. Schoene. Charles E. Lipsey, by appointment of the Court, 487 U.S. 1231 , argued the cause as amicus curiae in support of the judgment below. With him on the brief was Donald R. Dunner. * [ Footnote * ] Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed for Boston Whaler, Inc., by Geoffrey S. Stewart, James L. Quarles III, and William F. Lee; for Intellectual Property Owners, Inc., by Donald W. Banner and Herbert C. Wamsley; for the Marine Industries Association of South Florida et al. by Julius F. Parker, Jr., Jack M. Skelding, Jr., James W. York, Deputy Attorney General of Florida, and Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General, pro se; and for the Orange County Patent Law Association et al. by Randall Glenn Wick and J. Thomas McCarthy. Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the Aftermarket Body Parts Association et al. by James F. Fitzpatrick, Melvin C. Garbow, and Peter T. Grossi, Jr.; for the Certified Automobile Parts Association by Messrs. Garbow and Fitzpatrick; and for Xenetics Biomedical, Inc., by Edward S. Irons. Alex Devience, Jr., filed a brief for Imos Italia and Torino Industries, Ltd., as amicus curiae. JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court. We must decide today what limits the operation of the federal patent system places on the States' ability to offer substantial protection to utilitarian and design ideas which the patent laws leave otherwise unprotected. In Interpart [489 U.S. 141, 144] Corp. v. Italia, 777 F.2d 678 (1985), the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit concluded that a California law prohibiting the use of the "direct molding process" to duplicate unpatented articles posed no threat to the policies behind the federal patent laws. In this case, the Florida Supreme Court came to a contrary conclusion. It struck down a Florida statute which prohibits the use of the direct molding process to duplicate unpatented boat hulls, finding that the protection offered by the Florida law conflicted with the balance struck by Congress in the federal patent statute between the encouragement of invention and free competition in unpatented ideas. 515 So.2d 220 (1987). We granted certiorari to resolve the conflict, 486 U.S. 1004 (1988), and we now affirm the judgment of the Florida Supreme Court. I In September 1976, petitioner Bonito Boats, Inc. (Bonito), a Florida corporation, developed a hull design for a fiberglass recreational boat which it marketed under the trade name Bonito Boat Model 5VBR. App. 5. Designing the boat hull required substantial effort on the part of Bonito. A set of engineering drawings was prepared, from which a hardwood model was created. The hardwood model was then sprayed with fiberglass to create a mold, which then served to produce the finished fiberglass boats for sale. The 5VBR was placed on the market sometime in September 1976. There is no indication in the record that a patent application was ever filed for protection of the utilitarian or design aspects of the hull, or for the process by which the hull was manufactured. The 5VBR was favorably received by the boating public, and "a broad interstate market" developed for its sale. Ibid. In May 1983, after the Bonito 5VBR had been available to the public for over six years, the Florida Legislature enacted Fla. Stat. 559.94 (1987). The statute makes "[i]t . . . unlawful for any person to use the direct molding process to duplicate [489 U.S. 141, 145] for the purpose of sale any manufactured vessel hull or component part of a vessel made by another without the written permission of that other person." 559.94(2). The statute also makes it unlawful for a person to "knowingly sell a vessel hull or component part of a vessel duplicated in violation of subsection (2)." 559.94(3). Damages, injunctive relief, and attorney's fees are made available to "[a]ny person who suffers injury or damage as the result of a violation" of the statute. 559.94(4). The statute was made applicable to vessel hulls or component parts duplicated through the use of direct molding after July 1, 1983. 559.94(5). On December 21, 1984, Bonito filed this action in the Circuit Court of Orange County, Florida. The complaint alleged that respondent here, Thunder Craft Boats, Inc. (Thunder Craft), a Tennessee corporation, had violated the Florida statute by using the direct molding process to duplicate the Bonito 5VBR fiberglass hull, and had knowingly sold such duplicates in violation of the Florida statute. Bonito sought "a temporary and permanent injunction prohibiting [Thunder Craft] from continuing to unlawfully duplicate and sell Bonito Boat hulls or components," as well as an accounting of profits, treble damages, punitive damages, and attorney's fees. App. 6, 7. Respondent filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing that under this Court's decisions in Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Stiffel Co., 376 U.S. 225 (1964), and Compco Corp. v. Day-Brite Lighting, Inc., 376 U.S. 234 (1964), the Florida statute conflicted with federal patent law and was therefore invalid under the Supremacy Clause of the Federal Constitution. App. 8-9. The trial court granted respondent's motion, id., at 10-11, and a divided Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of petitioner's complaint. 487 So.2d 395 (1986). On appeal, a sharply divided Florida Supreme Court agreed with the lower courts' conclusion that the Florida law impermissibly interfered with the scheme established by the federal patent laws. See 515 So.2d 220 (1987). The majority [489 U.S. 141, 146] read our decisions in Sears and Compco for the proposition that "when an article is introduced into the public domain, only a patent can eliminate the inherent risk of competition and then but for a limited time." 515 So.2d, at 222. Relying on the Federal Circuit's decision in the Interpart case, the three dissenting judges argued that the Florida antidirect molding provision "does not prohibit the copying of an unpatented item. It prohibits one method of copying; the item remains in the public domain." 515 So.2d, at 223 (Shaw, J., dissenting). II Article I, 8, cl. 8, of the Constitution gives Congress the power "[t]o promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries." The Patent Clause itself reflects a balance between the need to encourage innovation and the avoidance of monopolies which stifle competition without any concomitant advance in the "Progress of Science and useful Arts." As we have noted in the past, the Clause contains both a grant of power and certain limitations upon the exercise of that power. Congress may not create patent monopolies of unlimited duration, nor may it "authorize the issuance of patents whose effects are to remove existent knowledge from the public domain, or to restrict free access to materials already available." Graham v. John Deere Co. of Kansas City, 383 U.S. 1, 6 (1966). From their inception, the federal patent laws have embodied a careful balance between the need to promote innovation and the recognition that imitation and refinement through imitation are both necessary to invention itself and the very lifeblood of a competitive economy. Soon after the adoption of the Constitution, the First Congress enacted the Patent Act of 1790, which allowed the grant of a limited monopoly of 14 years to any applicant that "hath . . . invented or discovered [489 U.S. 141, 147] any useful art, manufacture, . . . or device, or any improvement therein not before known or used." 1 Stat. 109, 110. In addition to novelty, the 1790 Act required that the invention be "sufficiently useful and important" to merit the 14-year right of exclusion. Ibid. Section 2 of the Act required that the patentee deposit with the Secretary of State, a specification and if possible a model of the new invention, "which specification shall be so particular, and said models so exact, as not only to distinguish the invention or discovery from other things before known and used, but also to enable a workman or other person skilled in the art or manufacture . . . to make, construct, or use the same, to the end that the public may have the full benefit thereof, after the expiration of the patent term." Ibid. The first Patent Act established an agency known by self-designation as the "Commissioners for the promotion of Useful Arts," composed of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Department of War, and the Attorney General, any two of whom could grant a patent. Thomas Jefferson was the first Secretary of State, and the driving force behind early federal patent policy. For Jefferson, a central tenet of the patent system in a free market economy was that "a machine of which we were possessed, might be applied by every man to any use of which it is susceptible." 13 Writings of Thomas Jefferson 335 (Memorial ed. 1904). He viewed a grant of patent rights in an idea already disclosed to the public as akin to an ex post facto law, "obstruct[ing] others in the use of what they possessed before." Id., at 326-327. Jefferson also played a large role in the drafting of our Nation's second Patent Act, which became law in 1793. The Patent Act of 1793 carried over the requirement that the subject of a patent application be "not known or used before the application." Ch. 11, 1 Stat. 318, 319. A defense to an infringement action was created where "the thing, thus secured by patent, was not originally discovered by the patentee, but had been in use, or had been described in some public work [489 U.S. 141, 148] anterior to the supposed discovery of the patentee." Id., at 322. Thus, from the outset, federal patent law has been about the difficult business "of drawing a line between the things which are worth to the public the embarrassment of an exclusive patent, and those which are not." 13 Writings of Thomas Jefferson, supra, at 335. Today's patent statute is remarkably similar to the law as known to Jefferson in 1793. Protection is offered to "[w]hoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof." 35 U.S.C. 101. Since 1842, Congress has also made protection available for "any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture." 35 U.S.C. 171. To qualify for protection, a design must present an aesthetically pleasing appearance that is not dictated by function alone, and must satisfy the other criteria of patentability. The novelty requirement of patentability is presently expressed in 35 U.S.C. 102(a) and (b), which provide: "A person shall be entitled to a patent unless - "(a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the application for patent, or "(b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country more than one year prior to the date of application for patent in the United States . . . ." Sections 102(a) and (b) operate in tandem to exclude from consideration for patent protection knowledge that is already available to the public. They express a congressional determination that the creation of a monopoly in such information would not only serve no socially useful purpose, but would in fact injure the public by removing existing knowledge from public use. From the Patent Act of 1790 to the present day, [489 U.S. 141, 149] the public sale of an unpatented article has acted as a complete bar to federal protection of the idea embodied in the article thus placed in public commerce. In the case of Pennock v. Dialogue, 2 Pet. 1 (1829), Justice Story applied these principles under the patent law of 1800. The patentee had developed a new technique for the manufacture of rubber hose for the conveyance of air and fluids. The invention was reduced to practice in 1811, but letters patent were not sought and granted until 1818. In the interval, the patentee had licensed a third party to market the hose, and over 13,000 feet of the new product had been sold in the city of Philadelphia alone. The Court concluded that the patent was invalid due to the prior public sale, indicating that, "if [an inventor] suffers the thing he invented to go into public use, or to be publicly sold for use" "[h]is voluntary act or acquiescence in the public sale and use is an abandonment of his right." Id., at 23-24. The Court noted that under the common law of England, letters patent were unavailable for the protection of articles in public commerce at the time of the application, id., at 20, and that this same doctrine was immediately embodied in the first patent laws passed in this country. Id., at 21-22. As the holding of Pennock makes clear, the federal patent scheme creates a limited opportunity to obtain a property right in an idea. Once an inventor has decided to lift the veil of secrecy from his work, he must choose the protection of a federal patent or the dedication of his idea to the public at large. As Judge Learned Hand once put it: "[I]t is a condition upon the inventor's right to a patent that he shall not exploit his discovery competitively after it is ready for patenting; he must content himself with either secrecy or legal monopoly." Metallizing Engineering Co. v. Kenyon Bearing & Auto Parts Co., 153 F.2d 516, 520 (CA2), cert. denied, 328 U.S. 840 (1946). In addition to the requirements of novelty and utility, the federal patent law has long required that an innovation not be [489 U.S. 141, 150] anticipated by the prior art in the field. Even if a particular combination of elements is "novel" in the literal sense of the term, it will not qualify for federal patent protection if its contours are so traced by the existing technology in the field that the "improvement is the work of the skillful mechanic, not that of the inventor." Hotchkiss v. Greenwood, 11 How. 248, 267 (1851). In 1952, Congress codified this judicially developed requirement in 35 U.S.C. 103, which refuses protection to new developments where "the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person of ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains." The nonobviousness requirement extends the field of unpatentable material beyond that which is known to the public under 102, to include that which could readily be deduced from publicly available material by a person of ordinary skill in the pertinent field of endeavor. See Graham, 383 U.S., at 15 . Taken together, the novelty and nonobviousness requirements express a congressional determination that the purposes behind the Patent Clause are best served by free competition and exploitation of either that which is already available to the public or that which may be readily discerned from publicly available material. See Aronson v. Quick Point Pencil Co., 440 U.S. 257, 262 (1979) ("[T]he stringent requirements for patent protection seek to ensure that ideas in the public domain remain there for the use of the public"). The applicant whose invention satisfies the requirements of novelty, nonobviousness, and utility, and who is willing to reveal to the public the substance of his discovery and "the best mode . . . of carrying out his invention," 35 U.S.C. 112, is granted "the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention throughout the United States," for a period of 17 years. 35 U.S.C. 154. The federal patent system thus embodies a carefully crafted bargain for encouraging [489 U.S. 141, 151] the creation and disclosure of new, useful, and nonobvious advances in technology and design in return for the exclusive right to practice the invention for a period of years. "[The inventor] may keep his invention secret and reap its fruits indefinitely. In consideration of its disclosure and the consequent benefit to the community, the patent is granted. An exclusive enjoyment is guaranteed him for seventeen years, but upon expiration of that period, the knowledge of the invention inures to the people, who are thus enabled without restriction to practice it and profit by its use." United States v. Dubilier Condenser Corp., 289 U.S. 178, 186 -187 (1933). The attractiveness of such a bargain, and its effectiveness in inducing creative effort and disclosure of the results of that effort, depend almost entirely on a backdrop of free competition in the exploitation of unpatented designs and innovations. The novelty and nonobviousness requirements of patentability embody a congressional understanding, implicit in the Patent Clause itself, that free exploitation of ideas will be the rule, to which the protection of a federal patent is the exception. Moreover, the ultimate goal of the patent system is to bring new designs and technologies into the public domain through disclosure. State law protection for techniques and designs whose disclosure has already been induced by market rewards may conflict with the very purpose of the patent laws by decreasing the range of ideas available as the building blocks of further innovation. The offer of federal protection from competitive exploitation of intellectual property would be rendered meaningless in a world where substantially similar state law protections were readily available. To a limited extent, the federal patent laws must determine not only what is protected, but also what is free for all to use. Cf. Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. v. Arkansas Public Service Comm'n, 461 U.S. 375, 384 (1983) ("[A] federal decision to forgo regulation in a given area may imply an authoritative federal determination that the area is best left unregulated, [489 U.S. 141, 152] and in that event would have as much pre-emptive force as a decision to regulate") (emphasis in original). Thus our past decisions have made clear that state regulation of intellectual property must yield to the extent that it clashes with the balance struck by Congress in our patent laws. The tension between the desire to freely exploit the full potential of our inventive resources and the need to create an incentive to deploy those resources is constant. Where it is clear how the patent laws strike that balance in a particular circumstance, that is not a judgment the States may second-guess. We have long held that after the expiration of a federal patent, the subject matter of the patent passes to the free use of the public as a matter of federal law. See Coats v. Merrick Thread Co., 149 U.S. 562, 572 (1893) ("[P]laintiffs' right to the use of the embossed periphery expired with their patent, and the public had the same right to make use of it as if it had never been patented"); Kellogg Co. v. National Biscuit Co., 305 U.S. 111 (1938); Singer Mfg. Co. v. June Mfg. Co., 163 U.S. 169 (1896). Where the public has paid the congressionally mandated price for disclosure, the States may not render the exchange fruitless by offering patent-like protection to the subject matter of the expired patent. "It is self-evident that on the expiration of a patent the monopoly created by it ceases to exist, and the right to make the thing formerly covered by the patent becomes public property." Singer, supra, at 185. In our decisions in Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Stiffel Co., 376 U.S. 225 (1964), and Compco Corp. v. Day-Brite Lighting, Inc., 376 U.S. 234 (1964), we found that publicly known design and utilitarian ideas which were unprotected by patent occupied much the same position as the subject matter of an expired patent. The Sears case involved a pole lamp originally designed by the plaintiff Stiffel, who had secured both design and mechanical patents on the lamp. Sears purchased unauthorized copies of the lamps, and was able to sell them at a retail price practically equivalent to the wholesale [489 U.S. 141, 153] price of the original manufacturer. Sears, supra, at 226. Stiffel brought an action against Sears in Federal District Court, alleging infringement of the two federal patents and unfair competition under Illinois law. The District Court found that Stiffel's patents were invalid due to anticipation in the prior art, but nonetheless enjoined Sears from further sales of the duplicate lamps based on a finding of consumer confusion under the Illinois law of unfair competition. The Court of Appeals affirmed, coming to the conclusion that the Illinois law of unfair competition prohibited product simulation even in the absence of evidence that the defendant took some further action to induce confusion as to source. This Court reversed, finding that the unlimited protection against copying which the Illinois law accorded an unpatentable item whose design had been fully disclosed through public sales conflicted with the federal policy embodied in the patent laws. The Court stated: "In the present case the `pole lamp' sold by Stiffel has been held not to be entitled to the protection of either a mechanical or a design patent. An unpatentable article, like an article on which the patent has expired, is in the public domain and may be made and sold by whoever chooses to do so. What Sears did was to copy Stiffel's design and sell lamps almost identical to those sold by Stiffel. This it had every right to do under the federal patent laws." 376 U.S., at 231 . A similar conclusion was reached in Compco, where the District Court had extended the protection of Illinois' unfair competition law to the functional aspects of an unpatented fluorescent lighting system. The injunction against copying of an unpatented article, freely available to the public, impermissibly "interfere[d] with the federal policy, found in Art. I, 8, cl. 8, of the Constitution and in the implementing federal statutes, of allowing free access to copy whatever the federal patent and copyright laws leave in the public domain." Compco, supra, at 237. [489 U.S. 141, 154] The pre-emptive sweep of our decisions in Sears and Compco has been the subject of heated scholarly and judicial debate. See, e. g., Symposium, Product Simulation: A Right or a Wrong?, 64 Colum. L. Rev. 1178 (1964); Lear, Inc. v. Adkins, 395 U.S. 653, 676 (1969) (Black, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part). Read at their highest level of generality, the two decisions could be taken to stand for the proposition that the States are completely disabled from offering any form of protection to articles or processes which fall within the broad scope of patentable subject matter. See id., at 677. Since the potentially patentable includes "anything under the sun that is made by man," Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303, 309 (1980) (citation omitted), the broadest reading of Sears would prohibit the States from regulating the deceptive simulation of trade dress or the tortious appropriation of private information. That the extrapolation of such a broad pre-emptive principle from Sears is inappropriate is clear from the balance struck in Sears itself. The Sears Court made it plain that the States "may protect businesses in the use of their trademarks, labels, or distinctive dress in the packaging of goods so as to prevent others, by imitating such markings, from misleading purchasers as to the source of the goods." Sears, supra, at 232 (footnote omitted). Trade dress is, of course, potentially the subject matter of design patents. See W. T. Rogers Co. v. Keene, 778 F.2d 334, 337 (CA7 1985). Yet our decision in Sears clearly indicates that the States may place limited regulations on the circumstances in which such designs are used in order to prevent consumer confusion as to source. Thus, while Sears speaks in absolutist terms, its conclusion that the States may place some conditions on the use of trade dress indicates an implicit recognition that all state regulation of potentially patentable but unpatented subject matter is not ipso facto pre-empted by the federal patent laws. [489 U.S. 141, 155] What was implicit in our decision in Sears, we have made explicit in our subsequent decisions concerning the scope of federal pre-emption of state regulation of the subject matter of patent. Thus, in Kewanee Oil Co. v. Bicron Corp., 416 U.S. 470 (1974), we held that state protection of trade secrets did not operate to frustrate the achievement of the congressional objectives served by the patent laws. Despite the fact that state law protection was available for ideas which clearly fell within the subject matter of patent, the Court concluded that the nature and degree of state protection did not conflict with the federal policies of encouragement of patentable invention and the prompt disclosure of such innovations. Several factors were critical to this conclusion. First, because the public awareness of a trade secret is by definition limited, the Court noted that "the policy that matter once in the public domain must remain in the public domain is not incompatible with the existence of trade secret protection." Id., at 484. Second, the Kewanee Court emphasized that "[t]rade secret law provides far weaker protection in many respects than the patent law." Id., at 489-490. This point was central to the Court's conclusion that trade secret protection did not conflict with either the encouragement or disclosure policies of the federal patent law. The public at large remained free to discover and exploit the trade secret through reverse engineering of products in the public domain or by independent creation. Id., at 490. Thus, the possibility that trade secret protection would divert inventors from the creative effort necessary to satisfy the rigorous demands of patent protection was remote indeed. Ibid. Finally, certain aspects of trade secret law operated to protect noneconomic interests outside the sphere of congressional concern in the patent laws. As the Court noted, "[A] most fundamental human right, that of privacy, is threatened when industrial espionage is condoned or is made profitable." Id., at 487 (footnote omitted). There was no indication that Congress [489 U.S. 141, 156] had considered this interest in the balance struck by the patent laws, or that state protection for it would interfere with the policies behind the patent system. We have since reaffirmed the pragmatic approach which Kewanee takes to the pre-emption of state laws dealing with the protection of intellectual property. See Aronson, 440 U.S., at 262 ("State law is not displaced merely because the contract relates to intellectual property which may or may not be patentable; the states are free to regulate the use of such intellectual property in any manner not inconsistent with federal law"). At the same time, we have consistently reiterated the teaching of Sears and Compco that ideas once placed before the public without the protection of a valid patent are subject to appropriation without significant restraint. Aronson, supra, at 263. At the heart of Sears and Compco is the conclusion that the efficient operation of the federal patent system depends upon substantially free trade in publicly known, unpatented design and utilitarian conceptions. In Sears, the state law offered "the equivalent of a patent monopoly," 376 U.S., at 233 , in the functional aspects of a product which had been placed in public commerce absent the protection of a valid patent. While, as noted above, our decisions since Sears have taken a decidedly less rigid view of the scope of federal pre-emption under the patent laws, e. g., Kewanee, supra, at 479-480, we believe that the Sears Court correctly concluded that the States may not offer patent-like protection to intellectual creations which would otherwise remain unprotected as a matter of federal law. Both the novelty and the nonobviousness requirements of federal patent law are grounded in the notion that concepts within the public grasp, or those so obvious that they readily could be, are the tools of creation available to all. They provide the baseline of free competition upon which the patent system's incentive to creative effort depends. A state law that substantially interferes with the enjoyment of an unpatented utilitarian or design conception [489 U.S. 141, 157] which has been freely disclosed by its author to the public at large impermissibly contravenes the ultimate goal of public disclosure and use which is the centerpiece of federal patent policy. Moreover, through the creation of patent-like rights, the States could essentially redirect inventive efforts away from the careful criteria of patentability developed by Congress over the last 200 years. We understand this to be the reasoning at the core of our decisions in Sears and Compco, and we reaffirm that reasoning today. III We believe that the Florida statute at issue in this case so substantially impedes the public use of the otherwise unprotected design and utilitarian ideas embodied in unpatented boat hulls as to run afoul of the teaching of our decisions in Sears and Compco. It is readily apparent that the Florida statute does not operate to prohibit "unfair competition" in the usual sense that the term is understood. The law of unfair competition has its roots in the common-law tort of deceit: its general concern is with protecting consumers from confusion as to source. While that concern may result in the creation of "quasi-property rights" in communicative symbols, the focus is on the protection of consumers, not the protection of producers as an incentive to product innovation. Judge Hand captured the distinction well in Crescent Tool Co. v. Kilborn & Bishop Co., 247 F. 299, 301 (CA2 1917), where he wrote: "[T]he plaintiff has the right not to lose his customers through false representations that those are his wares which in fact are not, but he may not monopolize any design or pattern, however trifling. The defendant, on the other hand, may copy plaintiff's goods slavishly down to the minutest detail: but he may not represent himself as the plaintiff in their sale." With some notable exceptions, including the interpretation of the Illinois law of unfair competition at issue in Sears and [489 U.S. 141, 158] Compco, see Sears, supra, at 227-228, n. 2, the common-law tort of unfair competition has been limited to protection against copying of nonfunctional aspects of consumer products which have acquired secondary meaning such that they operate as a designation of source. See generally P. Kaufmann, Passing Off and Misappropriation, in 9 International Review of Industrial Property and Copyright Law, Studies in Industrial Property and Copyright Law 100-109 (1986). The "protection" granted a particular design under the law of unfair competition is thus limited to one context where consumer confusion is likely to result; the design "idea" itself may be freely exploited in all other contexts. In contrast to the operation of unfair competition law, the Florida statute is aimed directly at preventing the exploitation of the design and utilitarian conceptions embodied in the product itself. The sparse legislative history surrounding its enactment indicates that it was intended to create an inducement for the improvement of boat hull designs. See Tr. of Meeting of Transportation Committee, Florida House of Representatives, May 3, 1983, reprinted at App. 22 ("[T]here is no inducement for [a] quality boat manufacturer to improve these designs and secondly, if he does, it is immediately copied. This would prevent that and allow him recourse in circuit court"). To accomplish this goal, the Florida statute endows the original boat hull manufacturer with rights against the world, similar in scope and operation to the rights accorded a federal patentee. Like the patentee, the beneficiary of the Florida statute may prevent a competitor from "making" the product in what is evidently the most efficient manner available and from "selling" the product when it is produced in that fashion. Compare 35 U.S.C. 154. * [489 U.S. 141, 159] The Florida scheme offers this protection for an unlimited number of years to all boat hulls and their component parts, without regard to their ornamental or technological merit. Protection is available for subject matter for which patent protection has been denied or has expired, as well as for designs which have been freely revealed to the consuming public by their creators. In this case, the Bonito 5VBR fiberglass hull has been freely exposed to the public for a period in excess of six years. For purposes of federal law, it stands in the same stead as an item for which a patent has expired or been denied: it is unpatented and unpatentable. See 35 U.S.C. 102(b). Whether because of a determination of unpatentability or other commercial concerns, petitioner chose to expose its hull design to the public in the marketplace, eschewing the bargain held out by the federal patent system of disclosure in exchange for exclusive use. Yet, the Florida statute allows petitioner to reassert a substantial property right in the idea, thereby constricting the spectrum of useful public knowledge. Moreover, it does so without the careful protections of high standards of innovation and limited monopoly contained in the federal scheme. We think it clear that such protection conflicts with the federal policy "that all ideas in general circulation be dedicated to the common good [489 U.S. 141, 160] unless they are protected by a valid patent." Lear, Inc. v. Adkins, 395 U.S., at 668 . That the Florida statute does not remove all means of reproduction and sale does not eliminate the conflict with the federal scheme. See Kellogg, 305 U.S., at 122 . In essence, the Florida law prohibits the entire public from engaging in a form of reverse engineering of a product in the public domain. This is clearly one of the rights vested in the federal patent holder, but has never been a part of state protection under the law of unfair competition or trade secrets. See Kewanee, 416 U.S., at 476 ("A trade secret law, however, does not offer protection against discovery by . . . so-called reverse engineering, that is by starting with the known product and working backward to divine the process which aided in its development or manufacture"); see also Chicago Lock Co. v. Fanberg, 676 F.2d 400, 405 (CA9 1982) ("A lock purchaser's own reverse-engineering of his own lock, and subsequent publication of the serial number-key code correlation, is an example of the independent invention and reverse engineering expressly allowed by trade secret doctrine"). The duplication of boat hulls and their component parts may be an essential part of innovation in the field of hydrodynamic design. Variations as to size and combination of various elements may lead to significant advances in the field. Reverse engineering of chemical and mechanical articles in the public domain often leads to significant advances in technology. If Florida may prohibit this particular method of study and recomposition of an unpatented article, we fail to see the principle that would prohibit a State from banning the use of chromatography in the reconstitution of unpatented chemical compounds, or the use of robotics in the duplication of machinery in the public domain. Moreover, as we noted in Kewanee, the competitive reality of reverse engineering may act as a spur to the inventor, creating an incentive to develop inventions that meet the rigorous requirements of patentability. 416 U.S., at 489 -490. [489 U.S. 141, 161] The Florida statute substantially reduces this competitive incentive, thus eroding the general rule of free competition upon which the attractiveness of the federal patent bargain depends. The protections of state trade secret law are most effective at the developmental stage, before a product has been marketed and the threat of reverse engineering becomes real. During this period, patentability will often be an uncertain prospect, and to a certain extent, the protection offered by trade secret law may "dovetail" with the incentives created by the federal patent monopoly. See Goldstein, Kewanee Oil Co. v. Bicron Corp.: Notes on a Closing Circle, 1974 S. Ct. Rev. 81, 92. In contrast, under the Florida scheme, the would-be inventor is aware from the outset of his efforts that rights against the public are available regardless of his ability to satisfy the rigorous standards of patentability. Indeed, it appears that even the most mundane and obvious changes in the design of a boat hull will trigger the protections of the statute. See Fla. Stat. 559.94(2) (1987) (protecting "any manufactured vessel hull or component part"). Given the substantial protection offered by the Florida scheme, we cannot dismiss as hypothetical the possibility that it will become a significant competitor to the federal patent laws, offering investors similar protection without the quid pro quo of substantial creative effort required by the federal statute. The prospect of all 50 States establishing similar protections for preferred industries without the rigorous requirements of patentability prescribed by Congress could pose a substantial threat to the patent system's ability to accomplish its mission of promoting progress in the useful arts. Finally, allowing the States to create patent-like rights in various products in public circulation would lead to administrative problems of no small dimension. The federal patent scheme provides a basis for the public to ascertain the status of the intellectual property embodied in any article in general circulation. Through the application process, detailed information [489 U.S. 141, 162] concerning the claims of the patent holder is compiled in a central location. See 35 U.S.C. 111-114. The availability of damages in an infringement action is made contingent upon affixing a notice of patent to the protected article. 35 U.S.C. 287. The notice requirement is designed "for the information of the public," Wine Railway Appliance Co. v. Enterprise Railway Equipment Co., 297 U.S. 387, 397 (1936), and provides a ready means of discerning the status of the intellectual property embodied in an article of manufacture or design. The public may rely upon the lack of notice in exploiting shapes and designs accessible to all. See Devices for Medicine, Inc. v. Boehl, 822 F.2d 1062, 1066 (CA Fed. 1987) ("Having sold the product unmarked, [the patentee] could hardly maintain entitlement to damages for its use by a purchaser uninformed that such use would violate [the] patent"). The Florida scheme blurs this clear federal demarcation between public and private property. One of the fundamental purposes behind the Patent and Copyright Clauses of the Constitution was to promote national uniformity in the realm of intellectual property. See The Federalist No. 43, p. 309 (B. Wright ed. 1961). Since the Patent Act of 1800, Congress has lodged exclusive jurisdiction of actions "arising under" the patent laws in the federal courts, thus allowing for the development of a uniform body of law in resolving the constant tension between private right and public access. See 28 U.S.C. 1338; see also Chisum, The Allocation of Jurisdiction Between State and Federal Courts in Patent Litigation, 46 Wash. L. Rev. 633, 636 (1971). Recently, Congress conferred exclusive jurisdiction of all patent appeals on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, in order to "provide nationwide uniformity in patent law." H. R. Rep. No. 97-312, p. 20 (1981). This purpose is frustrated by the Florida scheme, which renders the status of the design and utilitarian "ideas" embodied in the boat hulls it protects uncertain. Given the inherently ephemeral nature [489 U.S. 141, 163] of property in ideas, and the great power such property has to cause harm to the competitive policies which underlay the federal patent laws, the demarcation of broad zones of public and private right is "the type of regulation that demands a uniform national rule." Ray v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 435 U.S. 151, 179 (1978). Absent such a federal rule, each State could afford patent-like protection to particularly favored home industries, effectively insulating them from competition from outside the State. Petitioner and its supporting amici place great weight on the contrary decision of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Interpart Corp. v. Italia. In upholding the application of the California "antidirect molding" statute to the duplication of unpatented automobile mirrors, the Federal Circuit stated: "The statute prevents unscrupulous competitors from obtaining a product and using it as the `plug' for making a mold. The statute does not prohibit copying the design of the product in any other way; the latter if in the public domain, is free for anyone to make, use or sell." 777 F.2d, at 685. The court went on to indicate that "the patent laws `say nothing about the right to copy or the right to use, they speak only in terms of the right to exclude.'" Ibid., quoting Mine Safety Appliances Co. v. Electric Storage Battery Co., 56 C. C. P. A. (Pat.) 863, 864, n. 2, 405 F.2d 901, 902, n. 2 (1969). We find this reasoning defective in several respects. The Federal Circuit apparently viewed the direct molding statute at issue in Interpart as a mere regulation of the use of chattels. Yet, the very purpose of antidirect molding statutes is to "reward" the "inventor" by offering substantial protection against public exploitation of his or her idea embodied in the product. Such statutes would be an exercise in futility if they did not have precisely the effect of substantially limiting the ability of the public to exploit an otherwise unprotected idea. As amicus points out, the direct molding process itself has been in use since the early 1950's. See Brief for Charles [489 U.S. 141, 164] E. Lipsey as Amicus Curiae 3, n. 2. Indeed, U.S. Patent No. 3,419,646, issued to Robert L. Smith in 1968, explicitly discloses and claims a method for the direct molding of boat hulls. The specifications of the Smith Patent indicate that "[i]t is a major object of the present invention to provide a method for making large molded boat hull molds at very low cost, once a prototype hull has been provided." App. to Brief for Charles E. Lipsey as Amicus Curiae 15a. In fact, it appears that Bonito employed a similar process in the creation of its own production mold. See supra, at 144. It is difficult to conceive of a more effective method of creating substantial property rights in an intellectual creation than to eliminate the most efficient method for its exploitation. Sears and Compco protect more than the right of the public to contemplate the abstract beauty of an otherwise unprotected intellectual creation - they assure its efficient reduction to practice and sale in the marketplace. Appending the conclusionary label "unscrupulous" to such competitive behavior merely endorses a policy judgment which the patent laws do not leave the States free to make. Where an item in general circulation is unprotected by patent, "[r]eproduction of a functional attribute is legitimate competitive activity." Inwood Laboratories, Inc. v. Ives Laboratories, Inc., 456 U.S. 844, 863 (1982) (WHITE, J., concurring in result). See also Bailey v. Logan Square Typographers, Inc., 441 F.2d 47, 51 (CA7 1971) (Stevens, J.) ("[T]hat which is published may be freely copied as a matter of federal right"). Finally, we are somewhat troubled by the Interpart court's reference to the Mine Safety case for the proposition that the patent laws say "nothing about the right to copy or the right to use." As noted above, the federal standards for patentability, at a minimum, express the congressional determination that patent-like protection is unwarranted as to certain classes of intellectual property. The States are simply not free in this regard to offer equivalent protections to ideas [489 U.S. 141, 165] which Congress has determined should belong to all. For almost 100 years it has been well established that in the case of an expired patent, the federal patent laws do create a federal right to "copy and to use." Sears and Compco extended that rule to potentially patentable ideas which are fully exposed to the public. The Interpart court's assertion to the contrary is puzzling and flies in the face of the same court's decisions applying the teaching of Sears and Compco in other contexts. See Power Controls Corp. v. Hybrinetics, Inc., 806 F.2d 234, 240 (CA Fed. 1986) ("It is well established . . . that an action for unfair competition cannot be based upon a functional design"); Gemveto Jewelry Co. v. Jeff Cooper Inc., 800 F.2d 256, 259 (CA Fed. 1986) (vacating injunction against copying of jewelry designs issued under state law of unfair competition "in view of the Sears and Compco decisions which hold that copying of the article itself that is unprotected by the federal patent and copyright laws cannot be protected by state law"). Our decisions since Sears and Compco have made it clear that the Patent and Copyright Clauses do not, by their own force or by negative implication, deprive the States of the power to adopt rules for the promotion of intellectual creation within their own jurisdictions. See Aronson, 440 U.S., at 262 ; Goldstein v. California, 412 U.S. 546, 552 -561 (1973); Kewanee, 416 U.S., at 478 -479. Thus, where "Congress determines that neither federal protection nor freedom from restraint is required by the national interest," Goldstein, supra, at 559, the States remain free to promote originality and creativity in their own domains. Nor does the fact that a particular item lies within the subject matter of the federal patent laws necessarily preclude the States from offering limited protection which does not impermissibly interfere with the federal patent scheme. As Sears itself makes clear, States may place limited regulations on the use of unpatented designs in order to prevent consumer confusion as to source. In Kewanee, we found that [489 U.S. 141, 166] state protection of trade secrets, as applied to both patentable and unpatentable subject matter, did not conflict with the federal patent laws. In both situations, state protection was not aimed exclusively at the promotion of invention itself, and the state restrictions on the use of unpatented ideas were limited to those necessary to promote goals outside the contemplation of the federal patent scheme. Both the law of unfair competition and state trade secret law have coexisted harmoniously with federal patent protection for almost 200 years, and Congress has given no indication that their operation is inconsistent with the operation of the federal patent laws. See Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc. v. Paul, 373 U.S. 132, 144 (1963); United States v. Bass, 404 U.S. 336, 349 (1971). Indeed, there are affirmative indications from Congress that both the law of unfair competition and trade secret protection are consistent with the balance struck by the patent laws. Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 60 Stat. 441, 15 U.S.C. 1125(a), creates a federal remedy for making "a false designation of origin, or any false description or representation, including words or other symbols tending falsely to describe or represent the same . . . ." Congress has thus given federal recognition to many of the concerns that underlie the state tort of unfair competition, and the application of Sears and Compco to nonfunctional aspects of a product which have been shown to identify source must take account of competing federal policies in this regard. Similarly, as JUSTICE MARSHALL noted in his concurring opinion in Kewanee: "State trade secret laws and the federal patent laws have co-existed for many, many, years. During this time, Congress has repeatedly demonstrated its full awareness of the existence of the trade secret system, without any indication of disapproval. Indeed, Congress has in a number of instances given explicit federal protection to trade secret information provided to federal agencies." Kewanee, supra, at 494 (concurring in result) (citation omitted). The case for [489 U.S. 141, 167] federal pre-emption is particularly weak where Congress has indicated its awareness of the operation of state law in a field of federal interest, and has nonetheless decided to "stand by both concepts and to tolerate whatever tension there [is] between them." Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee Corp., 464 U.S. 238, 256 (1984). The same cannot be said of the Florida statute at issue here, which offers protection beyond that available under the law of unfair competition or trade secret, without any showing of consumer confusion, or breach of trust or secrecy. The Florida statute is aimed directly at the promotion of intellectual creation by substantially restricting the public's ability to exploit ideas that the patent system mandates shall be free for all to use. Like the interpretation of Illinois unfair competition law in Sears and Compco, the Florida statute represents a break with the tradition of peaceful coexistence between state market regulation and federal patent policy. The Florida law substantially restricts the public's ability to exploit an unpatented design in general circulation, raising the specter of state-created monopolies in a host of useful shapes and processes for which patent protection has been denied or is otherwise unobtainable. It thus enters a field of regulation which the patent laws have reserved to Congress. The patent statute's careful balance between public right and private monopoly to promote certain creative activity is a "scheme of federal regulation . . . so pervasive as to make reasonable the inference that Congress left no room for the States to supplement it." Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S. 218, 230 (1947). Congress has considered extending various forms of limited protection to industrial design either through the copyright laws or by relaxing the restrictions on the availability of design patents. See generally Brown, Design Protection: An Overview, 34 UCLA L. Rev. 1341 (1987). Congress explicitly refused to take this step in the copyright laws, see 17 U.S.C. 101; H. R. Rep. No. 94-1476, p. 55 (1976), and despite [489 U.S. 141, 168] sustained criticism for a number of years, it has declined to alter the patent protections presently available for industrial design. See Report of the President's Commission on the Patent System, S. Doc. No. 5, 90th Cong., 1st Sess., 20-21 (1967); Lindgren, The Sanctity of the Design Patent: Illusion or Reality?, 10 Okla. City L. Rev. 195 (1985). It is for Congress to determine if the present system of design and utility patents is ineffectual in promoting the useful arts in the context of industrial design. By offering patent-like protection for ideas deemed unprotected under the present federal scheme, the Florida statute conflicts with the "strong federal policy favoring free competition in ideas which do not merit patent protection." Lear, Inc., 395 U.S., at 656 . We therefore agree with the majority of the Florida Supreme Court that the Florida statute is preempted by the Supremacy Clause, and the judgment of that court is hereby affirmed. It is so ordered. [ Footnote * ] In some respects, the protection accorded by the Florida statute resembles that of a so-called "product-by-process" patent. Such a claim "is one in which the product is defined at least in part in terms of the method or process by which it is made." D. Chisum, Patents 8.05, p. 8-67 (1988). As long as the end product of the process is adequately defined [489 U.S. 141, 159] and novel and nonobvious, a patent in the process may support a patent in the resulting product. See U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Manual of Patent Examining Procedure 706.03(e) (5th rev. ed. 1986) ("An article may be claimed by a process of making it provided it is definite"). The Florida statute at issue here grants boat hull manufacturers substantial control over the use of a particular process and the sale of an article created by that process without regard to the novelty or nonobviousness of either the end product or the process by which it was created. Under federal law, this type of protection would be unavailable to petitioner absent satisfaction of the requirements of patentability. See In re Thorpe, 777 F.2d 695, 697 (CA Fed. 1985) (product-by-process patent properly denied where end result was indistinguishable from prior art). [489 U.S. 141, 169] KSR INTERNATIONAL CO. v. TELEFLEX INC. et al. To control a conventional automobile’s speed, the driver depresses or releases the gas pedal, which interacts with the throttle via a cable or other mechanical link. Because the pedal’s position in the footwell normally cannot be adjusted, a driver wishing to be closer or farther from it must either reposition himself in the seat or move the seat, both of which can be imperfect solutions for smaller drivers in cars with deep footwells. This prompted inventors to design and patent pedals that could be adjusted to change their locations. The Asano patent reveals a support structure whereby, when the pedal location is adjusted, one of the pedal’s pivot points stays fixed. Asano is also designed so that the force necessary to depress the pedal is the same regardless of location adjustments. The Redding patent reveals a different, sliding mechanism where both the pedal and the pivot point are adjusted. In newer cars, computer-controlled throttles do not operate through force transferred from the pedal by a mechanical link, but open and close valves in response to electronic signals. For the computer to know what is happening with the pedal, an electronic sensor must translate the mechanical operation into digital data. Inventors had obtained a number of patents for such sensors. The so-called ’936 patent taught that it was preferable to detect the pedal’s position in the pedal mechanism, not in the engine, so the patent disclosed a pedal with an electronic sensor on a pivot point in the pedal assembly. The Smith patent taught that to prevent the wires connecting the sensor to the computer from chafing and wearing out, the sensor should be put on a fixed part of the pedal assembly rather than in or on the pedal’s footpad. Inventors had also patented self-contained modular sensors, which can be taken off the shelf and attached to any mechanical pedal to allow it to function with a computer-controlled throttle. The ’068 patent disclosed one such sensor. Chevrolet also manufactured trucks using modular sensors attached to the pedal support bracket, adjacent to the pedal and engaged with the pivot shaft about which the pedal rotates. Other patents disclose electronic sensors attached to adjustable pedal assemblies. For example, the Rixon patent locates the sensor in the pedal footpad, but is known for wire chafing. After petitioner KSR developed an adjustable pedal system for cars with cable-actuated throttles and obtained its ’976 patent for the design, General Motors Corporation (GMC) chose KSR to supply adjustable pedal systems for trucks using computer-controlled throttles. To make the ’976 pedal compatible with the trucks, KSR added a modular sensor to its design. Respondents (Teleflex) hold the exclusive license for the Engelgau patent, claim 4 of which discloses a position-adjustable pedal assembly with an electronic pedal position sensor attached a fixed pivot point. Despite having denied a similar, broader claim, the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) had allowed claim 4 because it included the limitation of a fixed pivot position, which distinguished the design from Redding’s. Asano was neither included among the Engelgau patent’s prior art references nor mentioned in the patent’s prosecution, and the PTO did not have before it an adjustable pedal with a fixed pivot point. After learning of KSR’s design for GMC, Teleflex sued for infringement, asserting that KSR’s pedal system infringed the Engelgau patent’s claim 4. KSR countered that claim 4 was invalid under §103 of the Patent Act, which forbids issuance of a patent when “the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art.” Graham v. John Deere Co. of Kansas City, 383 U. S. 1, 17–18, set out an objective analysis for applying §103: “[T]he scope and content of the prior art are … determined; differences between the prior art and the claims at issue are … ascertained; and the level of ordinary skill in the pertinent art resolved. Against this background the obviousness or nonobviousness of the subject matter is determined. Such secondary considerations as commercial success, long felt but unsolved needs, failure of others, etc., might be utilized to give light to the circumstances surrounding the origin of the subject matter sought to be patented.” While the sequence of these questions might be reordered in any particular case, the factors define the controlling inquiry. However, seeking to resolve the obviousness question with more uniformity and consistency, the Federal Circuit has employed a “teaching, suggestion, or motivation” (TSM) test, under which a patent claim is only proved obvious if the prior art, the problem’s nature, or the knowledge of a person having ordinary skill in the art reveals some motivation or suggestion to combine the prior art teachings. The District Court granted KSR summary judgment. After reviewing pedal design history, the Engelgau patent’s scope, and the relevant prior art, the court considered claim 4’s validity, applying Graham’s framework to determine whether under summary-judgment standards KSR had demonstrated that claim 4 was obvious. The court found “little difference” between the prior art’s teachings and claim 4: Asano taught everything contained in the claim except using a sensor to detect the pedal’s position and transmit it to a computer controlling the throttle. That additional aspect was revealed in, e.g., the ’068 patent and Chevrolet’s sensors. The court then held that KSR satisfied the TSM test, reasoning (1) the state of the industry would lead inevitably to combinations of electronic sensors and adjustable pedals, (2) Rixon provided the basis for these developments, and (3) Smith taught a solution to Rixon’s chafing problems by positioning the sensor on the pedal’s fixed structure, which could lead to the combination of a pedal like Asano with a pedal position sensor. Reversing, the Federal Circuit ruled the District Court had not applied the TSM test strictly enough, having failed to make findings as to the specific understanding or principle within a skilled artisan’s knowledge that would have motivated one with no knowledge of the invention to attach an electronic control to the Asano assembly’s support bracket. The Court of Appeals held that the District Court’s recourse to the nature of the problem to be solved was insufficient because, unless the prior art references addressed the precise problem that the patentee was trying to solve, the problem would not motivate an inventor to look at those references. The appeals court found that the Asano pedal was designed to ensure that the force required to depress the pedal is the same no matter how the pedal is adjusted, whereas Engelgau sought to provide a simpler, smaller, cheaper adjustable electronic pedal. The Rixon pedal, said the court, suffered from chafing but was not designed to solve that problem and taught nothing helpful to Engelgau’s purpose. Smith, in turn, did not relate to adjustable pedals and did not necessarily go to the issue of motivation to attach the electronic control on the pedal assembly’s support bracket. So interpreted, the court held, the patents would not have led a person of ordinary skill to put a sensor on an Asano-like pedal. That it might have been obvious to try that combination was likewise irrelevant. Finally, the court held that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment. Held: The Federal Circuit addressed the obviousness question in a narrow, rigid manner that is inconsistent with §103 and this Court’s precedents. KSR provided convincing evidence that mounting an available sensor on a fixed pivot point of the Asano pedal was a design step well within the grasp of a person of ordinary skill in the relevant art and that the benefit of doing so would be obvious. Its arguments, and the record, demonstrate that the Engelgau patent’s claim 4 is obvious. Pp. 11–24. 1. Graham provided an expansive and flexible approach to the obviousness question that is inconsistent with the way the Federal Circuit applied its TSM test here. Neither §103’s enactment nor Graham’s analysis disturbed the Court’s earlier instructions concerning the need for caution in granting a patent based on the combination of elements found in the prior art. See Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. v. Supermarket Equipment Corp., 340 U. S. 147, 152. Such a combination of familiar elements according to known methods is likely to be obvious when it does no more than yield predictable results. See, e.g., United States v. Adams, 383 U. S. 39, 50–52. When a work is available in one field, design incentives and other market forces can prompt variations of it, either in the same field or in another. If a person of ordinary skill in the art can implement a predictable variation, and would see the benefit of doing so, §103 likely bars its patentability. Moreover, if a technique has been used to improve one device, and a person of ordinary skill in the art would recognize that it would improve similar devices in the same way, using the technique is obvious unless its actual application is beyond that person’s skill. A court must ask whether the improvement is more than the predictable use of prior-art elements according to their established functions. Following these principles may be difficult if the claimed subject matter involves more than the simple substitution of one known element for another or the mere application of a known technique to a piece of prior art ready for the improvement. To determine whether there was an apparent reason to combine the known elements in the way a patent claims, it will often be necessary to look to interrelated teachings of multiple patents; to the effects of demands known to the design community or present in the marketplace; and to the background knowledge possessed by a person having ordinary skill in the art. To facilitate review, this analysis should be made explicit. But it need not seek out precise teachings directed to the challenged claim’s specific subject matter, for a court can consider the inferences and creative steps a person of ordinary skill in the art would employ. Pp. 11–14. (b) The TSM test captures a helpful insight: A patent composed of several elements is not proved obvious merely by demonstrating that each element was, independently, known in the prior art. Although common sense directs caution as to a patent application claiming as innovation the combination of two known devices according to their established functions, it can be important to identify a reason that would have prompted a person of ordinary skill in the art to combine the elements as the new invention does. Inventions usually rely upon building blocks long since uncovered, and claimed discoveries almost necessarily will be combinations of what, in some sense, is already known. Helpful insights, however, need not become rigid and mandatory formulas. If it is so applied, the TSM test is incompatible with this Court’s precedents. The diversity of inventive pursuits and of modern technology counsels against confining the obviousness analysis by a formalistic conception of the words teaching, suggestion, and motivation, or by overemphasizing the importance of published articles and the explicit content of issued patents. In many fields there may be little discussion of obvious techniques or combinations, and market demand, rather than scientific literature, may often drive design trends. Granting patent protection to advances that would occur in the ordinary course without real innovation retards progress and may, for patents combining previously known elements, deprive prior inventions of their value or utility. Since the TSM test was devised, the Federal Circuit doubtless has applied it in accord with these principles in many cases. There is no necessary inconsistency between the test and the Graham analysis. But a court errs where, as here, it transforms general principle into a rigid rule limiting the obviousness inquiry. Pp. 14–15. (c) The flaws in the Federal Circuit’s analysis relate mostly to its narrow conception of the obviousness inquiry consequent in its application of the TSM test. The Circuit first erred in holding that courts and patent examiners should look only to the problem the patentee was trying to solve. Under the correct analysis, any need or problem known in the field and addressed by the patent can provide a reason for combining the elements in the manner claimed. Second, the appeals court erred in assuming that a person of ordinary skill in the art attempting to solve a problem will be led only to those prior art elements designed to solve the same problem. The court wrongly concluded that because Asano’s primary purpose was solving the constant ratio problem, an inventor considering how to put a sensor on an adjustable pedal would have no reason to consider putting it on the Asano pedal. It is common sense that familiar items may have obvious uses beyond their primary purposes, and a person of ordinary skill often will be able to fit the teachings of multiple patents together like pieces of a puzzle. Regardless of Asano’s primary purpose, it provided an obvious example of an adjustable pedal with a fixed pivot point, and the prior art was replete with patents indicating that such a point was an ideal mount for a sensor. Third, the court erred in concluding that a patent claim cannot be proved obvious merely by showing that the combination of elements was obvious to try. When there is a design need or market pressure to solve a problem and there are a finite number of identified, predictable solutions, a person of ordinary skill in the art has good reason to pursue the known options within his or her technical grasp. If this leads to the anticipated success, it is likely the product not of innovation but of ordinary skill and common sense. Finally, the court drew the wrong conclusion from the risk of courts and patent examiners falling prey to hindsight bias. Rigid preventative rules that deny recourse to common sense are neither necessary under, nor consistent with, this Court’s case law. Pp. 15–18. 2. Application of the foregoing standards demonstrates that claim 4 is obvious. Pp. 18–23. (a) The Court rejects Teleflex’s argument that the Asano pivot mechanism’s design prevents its combination with a sensor in the manner claim 4 describes. This argument was not raised before the District Court, and it is unclear whether it was raised before the Federal Circuit. Given the significance of the District Court’s finding that combining Asano with a pivot-mounted pedal position sensor fell within claim 4’s scope, it is apparent that Teleflex would have made clearer challenges if it intended to preserve this claim. Its failure to clearly raise the argument, and the appeals court’s silence on the issue, lead this Court to accept the District Court’s conclusion. Pp. 18–20. (b) The District Court correctly concluded that when Engelgau designed the claim 4 subject matter, it was obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art to combine Asano with a pivot-mounted pedal position sensor. There then was a marketplace creating a strong incentive to convert mechanical pedals to electronic pedals, and the prior art taught a number of methods for doing so. The Federal Circuit considered the issue too narrowly by, in effect, asking whether a pedal designer writing on a blank slate would have chosen both Asano and a modular sensor similar to the ones used in the Chevrolet trucks and disclosed in the ’068 patent. The proper question was whether a pedal designer of ordinary skill in the art, facing the wide range of needs created by developments in the field, would have seen an obvious benefit to upgrading Asano with a sensor. For such a designer starting with Asano, the question was where to attach the sensor. The ’936 patent taught the utility of putting the sensor on the pedal device. Smith, in turn, explained not to put the sensor on the pedal footpad, but instead on the structure. And from Rixon’s known wire-chafing problems, and Smith’s teaching that the pedal assemblies must not precipitate any motion in the connecting wires, the designer would know to place the sensor on a nonmoving part of the pedal structure. The most obvious such point is a pivot point. The designer, accordingly, would follow Smith in mounting the sensor there. Just as it was possible to begin with the objective to upgrade Asano to work with a computer-controlled throttle, so too was it possible to take an adjustable electronic pedal like Rixon and seek an improvement that would avoid the wire-chafing problem. Teleflex has not shown anything in the prior art that taught away from the use of Asano, nor any secondary factors to dislodge the determination that claim 4 is obvious. Pp. 20–23. 3. The Court disagrees with the Federal Circuit’s holding that genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment. The ultimate judgment of obviousness is a legal determination. Graham, 383 U. S., at 17. Where, as here, the prior art’s content, the patent claim’s scope, and the level of ordinary skill in the art are not in material dispute and the claim’s obviousness is apparent, summary judgment is appropriate. P. 23. 119 Fed. Appx. 282, reversed and remanded. Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. BILSKI et al. v. KAPPOS, UNDER SECRETARY OF COMMERCE FOR INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND DIRECTOR, PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE Petitioners’ patent application seeks protection for a claimed invention that explains how commodities buyers and sellers in the energy market can protect, or hedge, against the risk of price changes. The key claims are claim 1, which describes a series of steps instructing how to hedge risk, and claim 4, which places the claim 1 concept into a simple mathematical formula. The remaining claims explain how claims 1 and 4 can be applied to allow energy suppliers and consumers to minimize the risks resulting from fluctuations in market demand. The patent examiner rejected the application on the grounds that the invention is not implemented on a specific apparatus, merely manipulates an abstract idea, and solves a purely mathematical problem. The Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences agreed and affirmed. The Federal Circuit, in turn, affirmed. The en banc court rejected its prior test for determining whether a claimed invention was a patentable “process” under Patent Act, 35 U. S. C. §101—i.e., whether the invention produced a “useful, concrete, and tangible result,” see, e.g., State Street Bank & Trust Co v. Signature Financial Group, Inc., 149 F. 3d 1368, 1373—holding instead that a claimed process is patent eligible if: (1) it is tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or (2) it transforms a particular article into a different state or thing. Concluding that this “machine-or-transformation test” is the sole test for determining patent eligibility of a “process” under §101, the court applied the test and held that the application was not patent eligible. Held: The judgment is affirmed. 545 F. 3d 943, affirmed. Justice Kennedy delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to Parts II–B–2 and II–C–2, concluding that petitioners’ claimed invention is not patent eligible. Pp. 4–8, 10–11, 12–16. (a) Section 101 specifies four independent categories of inventions or discoveries that are patent eligible: “process[es],” “machin[es],” “manufactur[es],” and “composition[s] of matter.” “In choosing such expansive terms, … Congress plainly contemplated that the patent laws would be given wide scope,” Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U. S. 303, 308, in order to ensure that “ ‘ingenuity should receive a liberal encouragement,’ ” id., at 308–309. This Court’s precedents provide three specific exceptions to §101’s broad principles: “laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas.” Id., at 309. While not required by the statutory text, these exceptions are consistent with the notion that a patentable process must be “new and useful.” And, in any case, the exceptions have defined the statute’s reach as a matter of statutory stare decisis going back 150 years. See Le Roy v. Tatham, 14 How. 156, 174. The §101 eligibility inquiry is only a threshold test. Even if a claimed invention qualifies in one of the four categories, it must also satisfy “the conditions and requirements of this title,” §101(a), including novelty, see §102, nonobviousness, see §103, and a full and particular description, see §112. The invention at issue is claimed to be a “process,” which §100(b) defines as a “process, art or method, and includes a new use of a known process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, or material.” Pp. 4–5. (b) The machine-or-transformation test is not the sole test for patent eligibility under §101. The Court’s precedents establish that although that test may be a useful and important clue or investigative tool, it is not the sole test for deciding whether an invention is a patent-eligible “process” under §101. In holding to the contrary, the Federal Circuit violated two principles of statutory interpretation: Courts “ ‘should not read into the patent laws limitations and conditions which the legislature has not expressed,’ ” Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U. S. 175, 182, and, “[u]nless otherwise defined, ‘words will be interpreted as taking their ordinary, contemporary, common meaning,’ ” ibid. The Court is unaware of any ordinary, contemporary, common meaning of “process” that would require it to be tied to a machine or the transformation of an article. Respondent Patent Director urges the Court to read §101’s other three patentable categories as confining “process” to a machine or transformation. However, the doctrine of noscitur a sociis is inapplicable here, for §100(b) already explicitly defines “process,” see Burgess v. United States, 553 U. S. 124, 130, and nothing about the section’s inclusion of those other categories suggests that a “process” must be tied to one of them. Finally, the Federal Circuit incorrectly concluded that this Court has endorsed the machine-or-transformation test as the exclusive test. Recent authorities show that the test was never intended to be exhaustive or exclusive. See, e.g., Parker v. Flook, 437 U. S. 584, 588, n. 9. Pp. 5–8. (c) Section 101 similarly precludes a reading of the term “process” that would categorically exclude business methods. The term “method” within §100(b)’s “process” definition, at least as a textual matter and before other consulting other Patent Act limitations and this Court’s precedents, may include at least some methods of doing business. The Court is unaware of any argument that the “ordinary, contemporary, common meaning,” Diehr, supra, at 182, of “method” excludes business methods. Nor is it clear what a business method exception would sweep in and whether it would exclude technologies for conducting a business more efficiently. The categorical exclusion argument is further undermined by the fact that federal law explicitly contemplates the existence of at least some business method patents: Under §273(b)(1), if a patent-holder claims infringement based on “a method in [a] patent,” the alleged infringer can assert a defense of prior use. By allowing this defense, the statute itself acknowledges that there may be business method patents. Section 273 thus clarifies the understanding that a business method is simply one kind of “method” that is, at least in some circumstances, eligible for patenting under §101. A contrary conclusion would violate the canon against interpreting any statutory provision in a manner that would render another provision superfluous. See Corley v. United States, 556 U. S. ___, ___. Finally, while §273 appears to leave open the possibility of some business method patents, it does not suggest broad patentability of such claimed inventions. Pp. 10–11. (d) Even though petitioners’ application is not categorically outside of §101 under the two atextual approaches the Court rejects today, that does not mean it is a “process” under §101. Petitioners seek to patent both the concept of hedging risk and the application of that concept to energy markets. Under Benson, Flook, and Diehr, however, these are not patentable processes but attempts to patent abstract ideas. Claims 1 and 4 explain the basic concept of hedging and reduce that concept to a mathematical formula. This is an unpatentable abstract idea, just like the algorithms at issue in Benson and Flook. Petitioners’ remaining claims, broad examples of how hedging can be used in commodities and energy markets, attempt to patent the use of the abstract hedging idea, then instruct the use of well-known random analysis techniques to help establish some of the inputs into the equation. They add even less to the underlying abstract principle than the invention held patent ineligible in Flook. Pp. 12–15. (e) Because petitioners’ patent application can be rejected under the Court’s precedents on the unpatentability of abstract ideas, the Court need not define further what constitutes a patentable “process,” beyond pointing to the definition of that term provided in §100(b) and looking to the guideposts in Benson, Flook, and Diehr. Nothing in today’s opinion should be read as endorsing the Federal Circuit’s past interpretations of §101. See, e.g., State Street, 49 F. 3d, at 1373. The appeals court may have thought it needed to make the machine-or-transformation test exclusive precisely because its case law had not adequately identified less extreme means of restricting business method patents. In disapproving an exclusive machine-or-transformation test, this Court by no means desires to preclude the Federal Circuit’s development of other limiting criteria that further the Patent Act’s purposes and are not inconsistent with its text. P. 16. Kennedy, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, except for Parts II–B–2 and II–C–2. Roberts, C. J., and Thomas and Alito, JJ., joined the opinion in full, and Scalia, J., joined except for Parts II–B–2 and II–C–2. Stevens, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor, JJ., joined. Breyer, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which Scalia, J., joined as to Part II. ALICE CORPORATION PTY. LTD. v. CLS BANK INTERNATIONAL ET AL. Petitioner Alice Corporation is the assignee of several patents that disclose a scheme for mitigating “settlement risk,” i.e., the risk that only one party to an agreed-upon financial exchange will satisfy its obligation. In particular, the patent claims are designed to facilitate the exchange of financial obligations between two parties by using a computer system as a third-party intermediary. The patents in suit claim (1) a method for exchanging financial obligations, (2) a computer system configured to carry out the method for exchanging obligations, and (3) a computer-readable medium containing program code for performing the method of exchanging obligations. Respondents (together, CLS Bank), who operate a global network that facilitates currency transactions, filed suit against petitioner, arguing that the patent claims at issue are invalid, unenforceable, or not infringed. Petitioner counterclaimed, alleging infringement. After Bilski v. Kappos, 561 U. S. 593, was decided, the District Court held that all of the claims were ineligible for patent protection under 35 U. S. C. §101 because they are directed to an abstract idea. The en banc Federal Circuit affirmed. Held: Because the claims are drawn to a patent-ineligible abstract idea, they are not patent eligible under §101. Pp. 5–17. (a) The Court has long held that §101, which defines the subject matter eligible for patent protection, contains an implicit exception for ‘ “[l]aws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas.’ ” Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 569 U. S. ___, ___. In applying the §101 exception, this Court must distinguish patents that claim the “ ‘buildin[g] block[s]’ ” of human ingenuity, which are ineligible for patent protection, from those that integrate 2 ALICE CORP. v. CLS BANK INT’L Syllabus the building blocks into something more, see Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 566 U. S. ___, ___, thereby “transform[ing]” them into a patent-eligible invention, id., at ___. Pp. 5–6. (b) Using this framework, the Court must first determine whether the claims at issue are directed to a patent-ineligible concept. 566 U. S., at ___. If so, the Court then asks whether the claim’s elements, considered both individually and “as an ordered combination,” “transform the nature of the claim” into a patent-eligible application. Id., at ___. Pp. 7–17. (1) The claims at issue are directed to a patent-ineligible concept: the abstract idea of intermediated settlement. Under “the longstanding rule that ‘[a]n idea of itself is not patentable,’ ” Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U. S. 63, 67, this Court has found ineligible patent claims involving an algorithm for converting binary-coded decimal numerals into pure binary form, id., at 71–72; a mathematical formula for computing “alarm limits” in a catalytic conversion process, Parker v. Flook, 437 U. S. 584, 594–595; and, most recently, a method for hedging against the financial risk of price fluctuations, Bilski, 561 U. S, at 599. It follows from these cases, and Bilski in particular, that the claims at issue are directed to an abstract idea. On their face, they are drawn to the concept of intermediated settlement, i.e., the use of a third party to mitigate settlement risk. Like the risk hedging in Bilski, the concept of intermediated settlement is “ ‘a fundamental economic practice long prevalent in our system of commerce,’ ” ibid., and the use of a third-party intermediary (or “clearing house”) is a building block of the modern economy. Thus, intermediated settlement, like hedging, is an “abstract idea” beyond §101’s scope. Pp. 7– 10. (2) Turning to the second step of Mayo’s framework: The method claims, which merely require generic computer implementation, fail to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention. Pp. 10–16. (i) “Simply appending conventional steps, specified at a high level of generality,” to a method already “well known in the art” is not “enough” to supply the “ ‘inventive concept’ ” needed to make this transformation. Mayo, supra, at ___, ___. The introduction of a computer into the claims does not alter the analysis. Neither stating an abstract idea “while adding the words ‘apply it,’ ” Mayo, supra, at ___, nor limiting the use of an abstract idea “ ‘to a particular technological environment,’ ” Bilski, supra, at 610–611, is enough for patent eligibility. Stating an abstract idea while adding the words “apply it with a computer” simply combines those two steps, with the same deficient result. Wholly generic computer implementation is not generally the Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014) 3 Syllabus sort of “additional featur[e]” that provides any “practical assurance that the process is more than a drafting effort designed to monopolize the [abstract idea] itself.” Mayo, supra, at ___. Pp. 11–14. (ii) Here, the representative method claim does no more than simply instruct the practitioner to implement the abstract idea of intermediated settlement on a generic computer. Taking the claim elements separately, the function performed by the computer at each step—creating and maintaining “shadow” accounts, obtaining data, adjusting account balances, and issuing automated instructions—is “[p]urely ‘conventional. ’ ” Mayo, 566 U. S., at ___. Considered “as an ordered combination,” these computer components “ad[d] nothing . . . that is not already present when the steps are considered separately.” Id., at ___. Viewed as a whole, these method claims simply recite the concept of intermediated settlement as performed by a generic computer. They do not, for example, purport to improve the functioning of the computer itself or effect an improvement in any other technology or technical field. An instruction to apply the abstract idea of intermediated settlement using some unspecified, generic computer is not “enough” to transform the abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention. Id., at ___. Pp. 14–16. (3) Because petitioner’s system and media claims add nothing of substance to the underlying abstract idea, they too are patent ineligible under §101. Petitioner conceded below that its media claims rise or fall with its method claims. And the system claims are no different in substance from the method claims. The method claims recite the abstract idea implemented on a generic computer; the system claims recite a handful of generic computer components configured to implement the same idea. This Court has long “warn[ed] . . . against” interpreting §101 “in ways that make patent eligibility ‘depend simply on the draftsman’s art.’ ” Mayo, supra, at ___. Holding that the system claims are patent eligible would have exactly that result. Pp. 16–17. 717 F. 3d 1269, affirmed. THOMAS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which GINSBURG and BREYER, JJ., joined. _________________ _________________ Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014) 1 Opinion of the Court NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press. SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES No. 13–298 ALICE CORPORATION PTY. LTD, PETITIONER v. CLS BANK INTERNATIONAL ET AL. ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FEDERAL CIRCUIT [June 19, 2014] JUSTICE THOMAS delivered the opinion of the Court. The patents at issue in this case disclose a computerimplemented scheme for mitigating “settlement risk” (i.e., the risk that only one party to a financial transaction will pay what it owes) by using a third-party intermediary. The question presented is whether these claims are patent eligible under 35 U. S. C. §101, or are instead drawn to a patent-ineligible abstract idea. We hold that the claims at issue are drawn to the abstract idea of intermediated settlement, and that merely requiring generic computer implementation fails to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention. We therefore affirm the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. I A Petitioner Alice Corporation is the assignee of several patents that disclose schemes to manage certain forms of financial risk.1 According to the specification largely —————— 1The patents at issue are United States Patent Nos. 5,970,479 (the 2 ALICE CORP. v. CLS BANK INT’L Opinion of the Court shared by the patents, the invention “enabl[es] the management of risk relating to specified, yet unknown, future events.” App. 248. The specification further explains that the “invention relates to methods and apparatus, including electrical computers and data processing systems applied to financial matters and risk management.” Id., at 243. The claims at issue relate to a computerized scheme for mitigating “settlement risk”—i.e., the risk that only one party to an agreed-upon financial exchange will satisfy its obligation. In particular, the claims are designed to facilitate the exchange of financial obligations between two parties by using a computer system as a third-party intermediary. Id., at 383–384.2 The intermediary creates “shadow” credit and debit records (i.e., account ledgers) —————— ’479 patent), 6,912,510, 7,149,720, and 7,725,375. 2The parties agree that claim 33 of the ’479 patent is representative of the method claims. Claim 33 recites: “A method of exchanging obligations as between parties, each party holding a credit record and a debit record with an exchange institution, the credit records and debit records for exchange of predetermined obligations, the method comprising the steps of: “(a) creating a shadow credit record and a shadow debit record for each stakeholder party to be held independently by a supervisory institution from the exchange institutions; “(b) obtaining from each exchange institution a start-of-day balance for each shadow credit record and shadow debit record; “(c) for every transaction resulting in an exchange obligation, the supervisory institution adjusting each respective party’s shadow credit record or shadow debit record, allowing only these transactions that do not result in the value of the shadow debit record being less than the value of the shadow credit record at any time, each said adjustment taking place in chronological order, and “(d) at the end-of-day, the supervisory institution instructing on[e] of the exchange institutions to exchange credits or debits to the credit record and debit record of the respective parties in accordance with the adjustments of the said permitted transactions, the credits and debits being irrevocable, time invariant obligations placed on the exchange institutions.” App. 383–384. Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014) 3 Opinion of the Court that mirror the balances in the parties’ real-world accounts at “exchange institutions” (e.g., banks). The intermediary updates the shadow records in real time as transactions are entered, allowing “only those transactions for which the parties’ updated shadow records indicate sufficient resources to satisfy their mutual obligations.” 717 F. 3d 1269, 1285 (CA Fed. 2013) (Lourie, J., concurring). At the end of the day, the intermediary instructs the relevant financial institutions to carry out the “permitted” transactions in accordance with the updated shadow records, ibid., thus mitigating the risk that only one party will perform the agreed-upon exchange. In sum, the patents in suit claim (1) the foregoing method for exchanging obligations (the method claims), (2) a computer system configured to carry out the method for exchanging obligations (the system claims), and (3) a computer-readable medium containing program code for performing the method of exchanging obligations (the media claims). All of the claims are implemented using a computer; the system and media claims expressly recite a computer, and the parties have stipulated that the method claims require a computer as well. B Respondents CLS Bank International and CLS Services Ltd. (together, CLS Bank) operate a global network that facilitates currency transactions. In 2007, CLS Bank filed suit against petitioner, seeking a declaratory judgment that the claims at issue are invalid, unenforceable, or not infringed. Petitioner counterclaimed, alleging infringement. Following this Court’s decision in Bilski v. Kappos, 561 U. S. 593 (2010), the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment on whether the asserted claims are eligible for patent protection under 35 U. S. C. §101. The District Court held that all of the claims are patent ineligible because they are directed to the abstract idea of 4 ALICE CORP. v. CLS BANK INT’L Opinion of the Court “employing a neutral intermediary to facilitate simultaneous exchange of obligations in order to minimize risk.” 768 F. Supp. 2d 221, 252 (DC 2011). A divided panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed, holding that it was not “manifestly evident” that petitioner’s claims are directed to an abstract idea. 685 F. 3d 1341, 1352, 1356 (2012). The Federal Circuit granted rehearing en banc, vacated the panel opinion, and affirmed the judgment of the District Court in a one-paragraph per curiam opinion. 717 F. 3d, at 1273. Seven of the ten participating judges agreed that petitioner’s method and media claims are patent ineligible. See id., at 1274 (Lourie, J., concurring); id., at 1312–1313 (Rader, C. J., concurring in part and dissenting in part). With respect to petitioner’s system claims, the en banc Federal Circuit affirmed the District Court’s judgment by an equally divided vote. Id., at 1273. Writing for a five-member plurality, Judge Lourie concluded that all of the claims at issue are patent ineligible. In the plurality’s view, under this Court’s decision in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 566 U. S. ___ (2012), a court must first “identif[y] the abstract idea represented in the claim,” and then determine “whether the balance of the claim adds ‘significantly more.’” 717 F. 3d, at 1286. The plurality concluded that petitioner’s claims “draw on the abstract idea of reducing settlement risk by effecting trades through a third-party intermediary,” and that the use of a computer to maintain, adjust, and reconcile shadow accounts added nothing of substance to that abstract idea. Ibid. Chief Judge Rader concurred in part and dissented in part. In a part of the opinion joined only by Judge Moore, Chief Judge Rader agreed with the plurality that petitioner’s method and media claims are drawn to an abstract idea. Id., at 1312–1313. In a part of the opinion joined by Judges Linn, Moore, and O’Malley, Chief Judge Rader Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014) 5 Opinion of the Court would have held that the system claims are patent eligible because they involve computer “hardware” that is “specifically programmed to solve a complex problem.” Id., at 1307. Judge Moore wrote a separate opinion dissenting in part, arguing that the system claims are patent eligible. Id., at 1313–1314. Judge Newman filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, arguing that all of petitioner’s claims are patent eligible. Id., at 1327. Judges Linn and O’Malley filed a separate dissenting opinion reaching that same conclusion. Ibid. We granted certiorari, 571 U. S. ___ (2013), and now affirm. II Section 101 of the Patent Act defines the subject matter eligible for patent protection. It provides: “Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.” 35 U. S. C. §101. “We have long held that this provision contains an important implicit exception: Laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas are not patentable.” Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., 569 U. S. ___, ___ (2013) (slip op., at 11) (internal quotation marks and brackets omitted). We have interpreted §101 and its predecessors in light of this exception for more than 150 years. Bilski, supra, at 601–602; see also O’Reilly v. Morse, 15 How. 62, 112–120 (1854); Le Roy v. Tatham, 14 How. 156, 174–175 (1853). We have described the concern that drives this exclusionary principle as one of pre-emption. See, e.g., Bilski, supra, at 611–612 (upholding the patent “would pre-empt use of this approach in all fields, and would effectively 6 ALICE CORP. v. CLS BANK INT’L Opinion of the Court grant a monopoly over an abstract idea”). Laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas are “ ‘“the basic tools of scientific and technological work.”’” Myriad, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 11). “[M]onopolization of those tools through the grant of a patent might tend to impede innovation more than it would tend to promote it,” thereby thwarting the primary object of the patent laws. Mayo, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 2); see U. S. Const., Art. I, §8, cl. 8 (Congress “shall have Power . . . To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts”). We have “repeatedly emphasized this . . . concern that patent law not inhibit further discovery by improperly tying up the future use of ” these building blocks of human ingenuity. Mayo, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 16) (citing Morse, supra, at 113). At the same time, we tread carefully in construing this exclusionary principle lest it swallow all of patent law. Mayo, 566 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 2). At some level, “all inventions . . . embody, use, reflect, rest upon, or apply laws of nature, natural phenomena, or abstract ideas.” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 2). Thus, an invention is not rendered ineligible for patent simply because it involves an abstract concept. See Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U. S. 175, 187 (1981). “[A]pplication[s]” of such concepts “‘to a new and useful end,’” we have said, remain eligible for patent protection. Gottschalk v. Benson, 409 U. S. 63, 67 (1972). Accordingly, in applying the §101 exception, we must distinguish between patents that claim the “‘buildin[g] block[s]’” of human ingenuity and those that integrate the building blocks into something more, Mayo, 566 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 20), thereby “transform[ing]” them into a patent-eligible invention, id., at ___ (slip op., at 3). The former “would risk disproportionately tying up the use of the underlying” ideas, id., at ___ (slip op., at 4), and are therefore ineligible for patent protection. The latter pose no comparable risk of pre-emption, and therefore remain eligible for the monopoly granted under our patent laws. Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014) 7 Opinion of the Court III In Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., 566 U. S. ___ (2012), we set forth a framework for distinguishing patents that claim laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas from those that claim patent-eligible applications of those concepts. First, we determine whether the claims at issue are directed to one of those patent-ineligible concepts. Id., at ___ (slip op., at 8). If so, we then ask, “[w]hat else is there in the claims before us?” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 9). To answer that question, we consider the elements of each claim both individually and “as an ordered combination” to determine whether the additional elements “transform the nature of the claim” into a patent-eligible application. Id., at ___ (slip op., at 10, 9). We have described step two of this analysis as a search for an “ ‘inventive concept’”—i.e., an element or combination of elements that is “sufficient to ensure that the patent in practice amounts to significantly more than a patent upon the [ineligible concept] itself.” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 3).3 A We must first determine whether the claims at issue are directed to a patent-ineligible concept. We conclude that they are: These claims are drawn to the abstract idea of intermediated settlement. The “abstract ideas” category embodies “the longstanding rule that ‘[a]n idea of itself is not patentable.’ ” Benson, supra, at 67 (quoting Rubber-Tip Pencil Co. v. Howard, 20 Wall. 498, 507 (1874)); see also Le Roy, supra, at —————— 3Because the approach we made explicit in Mayo considers all claim elements, both individually and in combination, it is consistent with the general rule that patent claims “must be considered as a whole.” Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U. S. 175, 188 (1981); see Parker v. Flook, 437 U. S. 584, 594 (1978) (“Our approach . . . is . . . not at all inconsistent with the view that a patent claim must be considered as a whole”). 8 ALICE CORP. v. CLS BANK INT’L Opinion of the Court 175 (“A principle, in the abstract, is a fundamental truth; an original cause; a motive; these cannot be patented, as no one can claim in either of them an exclusive right ”). In Benson, for example, this Court rejected as ineligible patent claims involving an algorithm for converting binarycoded decimal numerals into pure binary form, holding that the claimed patent was “in practical effect . . . a patent on the algorithm itself.” 409 U. S., at 71–72. And in Parker v. Flook, 437 U. S. 584, 594–595 (1978), we held that a mathematical formula for computing “alarm limits” in a catalytic conversion process was also a patentineligible abstract idea. We most recently addressed the category of abstract ideas in Bilski v. Kappos, 561 U. S. 593 (2010). The claims at issue in Bilski described a method for hedging against the financial risk of price fluctuations. Claim 1 recited a series of steps for hedging risk, including: (1) initiating a series of financial transactions between providers and consumers of a commodity; (2) identifying market participants that have a counterrisk for the same commodity; and (3) initiating a series of transactions between those market participants and the commodity provider to balance the risk position of the first series of consumer transactions. Id., at 599. Claim 4 “pu[t] the concept articulated in claim 1 into a simple mathematical formula.” Ibid. The remaining claims were drawn to examples of hedging in commodities and energy markets. “[A]ll members of the Court agree[d]” that the patent at issue in Bilski claimed an “abstract idea.” Id., at 609; see also id., at 619 (Stevens, J., concurring in judgment). Specifically, the claims described “the basic concept of hedging, or protecting against risk.” Id., at 611. The Court explained that “‘[h]edging is a fundamental economic practice long prevalent in our system of commerce and taught in any introductory finance class.’” Ibid. “The concept of hedging” as recited by the claims in suit was Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014) 9 Opinion of the Court therefore a patent-ineligible “abstract idea, just like the algorithms at issue in Benson and Flook.” Ibid. It follows from our prior cases, and Bilski in particular, that the claims at issue here are directed to an abstract idea. Petitioner’s claims involve a method of exchanging financial obligations between two parties using a thirdparty intermediary to mitigate settlement risk. The intermediary creates and updates “shadow” records to reflect the value of each party’s actual accounts held at “exchange institutions,” thereby permitting only those transactions for which the parties have sufficient resources. At the end of each day, the intermediary issues irrevocable instructions to the exchange institutions to carry out the permitted transactions. On their face, the claims before us are drawn to the concept of intermediated settlement, i.e., the use of a third party to mitigate settlement risk. Like the risk hedging in Bilski, the concept of intermediated settlement is “ ‘a fundamental economic practice long prevalent in our system of commerce.’” Ibid.; see, e.g., Emery, Speculation on the Stock and Produce Exchanges of the United States, in 7 Studies in History, Economics and Public Law 283, 346–356 (1896) (discussing the use of a “clearing-house” as an intermediary to reduce settlement risk). The use of a third-party intermediary (or “clearing house”) is also a building block of the modern economy. See, e.g., Yadav, The Problematic Case of Clearinghouses in Complex Markets, 101 Geo. L. J. 387, 406–412 (2013); J. Hull, Risk Management and Financial Institutions 103–104 (3d ed. 2012). Thus, intermediated settlement, like hedging, is an “abstract idea” beyond the scope of §101. Petitioner acknowledges that its claims describe intermediated settlement, see Brief for Petitioner 4, but rejects the conclusion that its claims recite an “abstract idea.” Drawing on the presence of mathematical formulas in some of our abstract-ideas precedents, petitioner contends 10 ALICE CORP. v. CLS BANK INT’L Opinion of the Court that the abstract-ideas category is confined to “preexisting, fundamental truth[s]” that “‘exis[t] in principle apart from any human action.’” Id., at 23, 26 (quoting Mayo, 566 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 8)). Bilski belies petitioner’s assertion. The concept of risk hedging we identified as an abstract idea in that case cannot be described as a “preexisting, fundamental truth.” The patent in Bilski simply involved a “series of steps instructing how to hedge risk.” 561 U. S., at 599. Although hedging is a longstanding commercial practice, id., at 599, it is a method of organizing human activity, not a “truth” about the natural world “‘that has always existed,’” Brief for Petitioner 22 (quoting Flook, supra, at 593, n. 15). One of the claims in Bilski reduced hedging to a mathematical formula, but the Court did not assign any special significance to that fact, much less the sort of talismanic significance petitioner claims. Instead, the Court grounded its conclusion that all of the claims at issue were abstract ideas in the understanding that risk hedging was a “‘fundamental economic practice.’” 561 U. S., at 611. In any event, we need not labor to delimit the precise contours of the “abstract ideas” category in this case. It is enough to recognize that there is no meaningful distinction between the concept of risk hedging in Bilski and the concept of intermediated settlement at issue here. Both are squarely within the realm of “abstract ideas” as we have used that term. B Because the claims at issue are directed to the abstract idea of intermediated settlement, we turn to the second step in Mayo’s framework. We conclude that the method claims, which merely require generic computer implementation, fail to transform that abstract idea into a patenteligible invention. Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014) 11 Opinion of the Court 1 At Mayo step two, we must examine the elements of the claim to determine whether it contains an “‘inventive concept’” sufficient to “transform” the claimed abstract idea into a patent-eligible application. 566 U. S., at ___, ___ (slip op., at 3, 11). A claim that recites an abstract idea must include “additional features” to ensure “that the [claim] is more than a drafting effort designed to monopolize the [abstract idea].” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 8–9). Mayo made clear that transformation into a patent-eligible application requires “more than simply stat[ing] the [abstract idea] while adding the words ‘apply it.’” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 3). Mayo itself is instructive. The patents at issue in Mayo claimed a method for measuring metabolites in the bloodstream in order to calibrate the appropriate dosage of thiopurine drugs in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. Id., at ___ (slip op., at 4–6). The respondent in that case contended that the claimed method was a patenteligible application of natural laws that describe the relationship between the concentration of certain metabolites and the likelihood that the drug dosage will be harmful or ineffective. But methods for determining metabolite levels were already “well known in the art,” and the process at issue amounted to “nothing significantly more than an instruction to doctors to apply the applicable laws when treating their patients.” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 10). “Simply appending conventional steps, specified at a high level of generality,” was not “enough” to supply an “‘inventive concept.’” Id., at ___, ___, ___ (slip op., at 14, 8, 3). The introduction of a computer into the claims does not alter the analysis at Mayo step two. In Benson, for example, we considered a patent that claimed an algorithm implemented on “a general-purpose digital computer.” 409 U. S., at 64. Because the algorithm was an abstract idea, see supra, at 8, the claim had to supply a “‘new and use- 12 ALICE CORP. v. CLS BANK INT’L Opinion of the Court ful’” application of the idea in order to be patent eligible. 409 U. S., at 67. But the computer implementation did not supply the necessary inventive concept; the process could be “carried out in existing computers long in use.” Ibid. We accordingly “held that simply implementing a mathematical principle on a physical machine, namely a computer, [i]s not a patentable application of that principle.” Mayo, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 16) (citing Benson, supra, at 64). Flook is to the same effect. There, we examined a computerized method for using a mathematical formula to adjust alarm limits for certain operating conditions (e.g., temperature and pressure) that could signal inefficiency or danger in a catalytic conversion process. 437 U. S., at 585–586. Once again, the formula itself was an abstract idea, see supra, at 8, and the computer implementation was purely conventional. 437 U. S., at 594 (noting that the “use of computers for ‘automatic monitoringalarming’” was “well known”). In holding that the process was patent ineligible, we rejected the argument that “implement[ing] a principle in some specific fashion” will “automatically fal[l] within the patentable subject matter of §101.” Id., at 593. Thus, “Flook stands for the proposition that the prohibition against patenting abstract ideas cannot be circumvented by attempting to limit the use of [the idea] to a particular technological environment.” Bilski, 561 U. S., at 610–611 (internal quotation marks omitted). In Diehr, 450 U. S. 175, by contrast, we held that a computer-implemented process for curing rubber was patent eligible, but not because it involved a computer. The claim employed a “well-known” mathematical equation, but it used that equation in a process designed to solve a technological problem in “conventional industry practice.” Id., at 177, 178. The invention in Diehr used a “thermocouple” to record constant temperature measure- Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014) 13 Opinion of the Court ments inside the rubber mold—something “the industry ha[d] not been able to obtain.” Id., at 178, and n. 3. The temperature measurements were then fed into a computer, which repeatedly recalculated the remaining cure time by using the mathematical equation. Id., at 178–179. These additional steps, we recently explained, “transformed the process into an inventive application of the formula.” Mayo, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 12). In other words, the claims in Diehr were patent eligible because they improved an existing technological process, not because they were implemented on a computer. These cases demonstrate that the mere recitation of a generic computer cannot transform a patent-ineligible abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention. Stating an abstract idea “while adding the words ‘apply it’” is not enough for patent eligibility. Mayo, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 3). Nor is limiting the use of an abstract idea “‘to a particular technological environment.’” Bilski, supra, at 610–611. Stating an abstract idea while adding the words “apply it with a computer” simply combines those two steps, with the same deficient result. Thus, if a patent’s recitation of a computer amounts to a mere instruction to “implemen[t]” an abstract idea “on . . . a computer,” Mayo, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 16), that addition cannot impart patent eligibility. This conclusion accords with the preemption concern that undergirds our §101 jurisprudence. Given the ubiquity of computers, see 717 F. 3d, at 1286 (Lourie, J., concurring), wholly generic computer implementation is not generally the sort of “additional featur[e]” that provides any “practical assurance that the process is more than a drafting effort designed to monopolize the [abstract idea] itself.” Mayo, 566 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 8–9). The fact that a computer “necessarily exist[s] in the physical, rather than purely conceptual, realm,” Brief for Petitioner 39, is beside the point. There is no dispute that 14 ALICE CORP. v. CLS BANK INT’L Opinion of the Court a computer is a tangible system (in §101 terms, a “machine”), or that many computer-implemented claims are formally addressed to patent-eligible subject matter. But if that were the end of the §101 inquiry, an applicant could claim any principle of the physical or social sciences by reciting a computer system configured to implement the relevant concept. Such a result would make the determination of patent eligibility “depend simply on the draftsman’s art,” Flook, supra, at 593, thereby eviscerating the rule that “‘[l]aws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas are not patentable,’” Myriad, 569 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 11). 2 The representative method claim in this case recites the following steps: (1) “creating” shadow records for each counterparty to a transaction; (2) “obtaining” start-of-day balances based on the parties’ real-world accounts at exchange institutions; (3) “adjusting” the shadow records as transactions are entered, allowing only those transactions for which the parties have sufficient resources; and (4) issuing irrevocable end-of-day instructions to the exchange institutions to carry out the permitted transactions. See n.2, supra. Petitioner principally contends that the claims are patent eligible because these steps “require a substantial and meaningful role for the computer.” Brief for Petitioner 48. As stipulated, the claimed method requires the use of a computer to create electronic records, track multiple transactions, and issue simultaneous instructions; in other words, “[t]he computer is itself the intermediary.” Ibid. (emphasis deleted). In light of the foregoing, see supra, at 11–14, the relevant question is whether the claims here do more than simply instruct the practitioner to implement the abstract idea of intermediated settlement on a generic computer. They do not. Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014) 15 Opinion of the Court Taking the claim elements separately, the function performed by the computer at each step of the process is “[p]urely conventional.” Mayo, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 10) (internal quotation marks omitted). Using a computer to create and maintain “shadow” accounts amounts to electronic recordkeeping—one of the most basic functions of a computer. See, e.g., Benson, 409 U. S., at 65 (noting that a computer “operates . . . upon both new and previously stored data”). The same is true with respect to the use of a computer to obtain data, adjust account balances, and issue automated instructions; all of these computer functions are “well-understood, routine, conventional activit[ies]” previously known to the industry. Mayo, 566 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 4). In short, each step does no more than require a generic computer to perform generic computer functions. Considered “as an ordered combination,” the computer components of petitioner’s method “ad[d] nothing . . . that is not already present when the steps are considered separately.” Id., at ___ (slip op., at 10). Viewed as a whole, petitioner’s method claims simply recite the concept of intermediated settlement as performed by a generic computer. See 717 F. 3d, at 1286 (Lourie, J., concurring) (noting that the representative method claim “lacks any express language to define the computer’s participation”). The method claims do not, for example, purport to improve the functioning of the computer itself. See ibid. (“There is no specific or limiting recitation of . . . improved computer technology . . . ”); Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 28–30. Nor do they effect an improvement in any other technology or technical field. See, e.g., Diehr, 450 U. S., at 177–178. Instead, the claims at issue amount to “nothing significantly more” than an instruction to apply the abstract idea of intermediated settlement using some unspecified, generic computer. Mayo, 566 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 10). Under our precedents, that is not “enough” to 16 ALICE CORP. v. CLS BANK INT’L Opinion of the Court transform an abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention. Id., at ___ (slip op., at 8). C Petitioner’s claims to a computer system and a computerreadable medium fail for substantially the same reasons. Petitioner conceded below that its media claims rise or fall with its method claims. En Banc Response Brief for Defendant-Appellant in No. 11–1301 (CA Fed.) p. 50, n. 3. As to its system claims, petitioner emphasizes that those claims recite “specific hardware” configured to perform “specific computerized functions.” Brief for Petitioner 53. But what petitioner characterizes as specific hardware—a “data processing system” with a “communications controller” and “data storage unit,” for example, see App. 954, 958, 1257—is purely functional and generic. Nearly every computer will include a “communications controller” and “data storage unit” capable of performing the basic calculation, storage, and transmission functions required by the method claims. See 717 F. 3d, at 1290 (Lourie, J., concurring). As a result, none of the hardware recited by the system claims “offers a meaningful limitation beyond generally linking ‘the use of the [method] to a particular technological environment,’ that is, implementation via computers.” Id., at 1291 (quoting Bilski, 561 U. S., at 610–611). Put another way, the system claims are no different from the method claims in substance. The method claims recite the abstract idea implemented on a generic computer; the system claims recite a handful of generic computer components configured to implement the same idea. This Court has long “warn[ed] . . . against” interpreting §101 “in ways that make patent eligibility ‘depend simply on the draftsman’s art.’” Mayo, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 3) (quoting Flook, 437 U. S., at 593); see id., at 590 (“The concept of patentable subject matter under §101 is not Cite as: 573 U. S. ____ (2014) 17 Opinion of the Court ‘like a nose of wax which may be turned and twisted in any direction . . . ’”). Holding that the system claims are patent eligible would have exactly that result. Because petitioner’s system and media claims add nothing of substance to the underlying abstract idea, we hold that they too are patent ineligible under §101. * * * For the foregoing reasons, the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is affirmed. It is so ordered.