I was mind-boggled to read today that the U.S. Supreme Court currently has under review a patent claim involving a risk management system that includes Monte Carlo simulation. According to a patent law blog, Bernard Bilski’s application was for a method of managing consumption risk in commodity trading. In order to be "patentable subject matter," an invention (which can include a method) must be useful, novel and non-obvious.
How, nine years later, has this patent case has reached the Supreme Court–I keep thinking there must be something more to the case. Also, I keep returning to the fact that the men who originally developed this intellectual property, John von Neumann and Stanislaw Ulam, could never have patented it because they came up with it while they were employed by the U.S. Government.