The USPTO Issued Guidance Procedures for Patentable Subject Matter Determinations

March 4, 2014

The USPTO today issued new procedures guiding patentable subject matter determinations under 35 U.S.C. §101. These procedures were issued to the Patent Examining Corps from Andrew H. Hirschfeld (Deputy Commissioner for Patent Examination Policy) in the form of a memo entitled “2014 Procedure For Subject Matter Eligibility Analysis Of Claims Reciting Or Involving Laws Of Nature/Natural Principles, Natural Phenomena, And/Or Natural Products.”

The memo provides a summary (with a flowchart) of the overall process for subject matter eligibility under §101, as well as a detailed explanation for determining whether a claim as a whole recites something “significantly different” than the judicial exceptions.  Examples are also provided in the following contexts:  A) composition/manufacture claim reciting a natural product; B) composition versus method claims, each reciting a natural product; C) manufacture claim reciting natural products; D) composition claim reciting natural products; E) composition versus method claims, each reciting two natural products: F) process claim involving a natural principle and reciting natural products; G) process claims involving a natural principle; and H) process claim reciting an abstract idea and a natural product