Freeman-Walter-Abele Test Law and Legal Definition

Freeman-Walter-Abele is a judicial test related to U.S. patent law. The test originated from decisions concerning software patents. It is an outdated test which was used to determine whether mathematical principles or algorithms were patentable subject matter.

The Court of Customs and Patent Appeals introduced and refined these test under the constraint that the U.S. Supreme Court found algorithms unpatentable. The aim was to allow claims that do not try to monopolize traditionally unpatentable subject matter, for example, mathematics, thinking, and laws of nature. Although the test is primarily concerned with mathematical algorithms, it has some applicability in all subject matter discussions.

This test started fading during the period between 1992 and 1998. And in 2008, in In re Bilski, 545 F.3d 943 (Fed. Cir. 2008), the court held that the Freeman-Walter-Abele test is inadequate. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has recognized that a claim failing that test may nonetheless be patent-eligible. Rather, the machine-or-transformation test is the applicable test for patent-eligible subject matter.