Patenting Inventions Based on Natural Phenomena

Recent Federal Circuit decisions provide guidance for companies seeking to patent inventions based on newly discovered natural phenomena. In Vanda v. West-Ward (2018), the Federal Circuit upheld personalized medicine method of treatment claims, finding the claims to be patent eligible because they claim a particular application of a natural phenomenon, namely a method of treatment, rather than the natural phenomena itself. The Federal Circuit’s decision in Berkheimer v. HP (Fed. Cir. 2018) suggests that including features in a patent claim that are not well-understood, routine, or conventional in the field can help to show that a claim based on a natural phenomenon is nonetheless patent eligible.