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Useful art, or useful arts or technics, is concerned with the skills and methods of practical subjects such as manufacture and craftsmanship. The phrase has now gone out of fashion, but it was used during the Victorian era and earlier as an antonym to the performing art and the fine art.
"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;…"
In the clause, the phrase "useful Arts" is meant to reference inventions, while "Science" is meant to reference human knowledge, including that which is encompassed in literature and the "fine arts".
In his dissenting opinion in In re Bilski,Judge Mayer criticized the majority for not addressing the preliminary issue of whether the claimed invention was within the useful arts. In Mayer's view this should have been dispositive, because he considered the claimed business method not to be within the useful arts. In the same case, Judge Dyk filed a concurring opinion to similar effect.
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