This is an archival page that lists patent subject matter eligibility guidance under 35 U.S.C. 101 prior to its incorporation into the MPEP by date of issuance. Please take note that the documents issued prior to November 2019 have been incorporated into the MPEP. Eligibility-related guidance issued prior to the Ninth Edition, Revision 10.2019, of the MPEP (revised June 2020) should not be relied upon. All versions of the Office's "Eligibility Quick Reference Sheet Identifying Abstract Ideas" (first issued in July 2015 and updated most recently in July 2018) have been superseded by subsequent guidance.
Current guidance, training and other information is provided on the Subject matter eligibility page.
Guidance since 2018
The Office's current eligibility guidance is found in the Manual of Patent Examination Procedure (MPEP) Sections 2103 through 2106.07(c). The Ninth Edition, Revision 10.2019 of the MPEP (revised June 2020) incorporated the following documents.
- October 2019 Patent Eligibility Guidance Update (issued October 17, 2019)
- Appendix 1: October 2019 Examples 43-46 (issued October 17, 2019)
- Appendix 2: Index of Examples (issued October 17, 2019)
- Appendix 3: Chart of Subject Matter Eligibility Court Decisions (updated October 17, 2019)
- The 2019 Revised Patent Subject Matter Eligibility Guidance (issued January 7, 2019)
- A chart discussing how the 2019 PEG affected the former version of the MPEP, the Ninth Edition Revision 08.2017 (revised January 2018).
Memoranda and notice discussing subject matter eligibility decisions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
- Memorandum - Recent Subject Matter Eligibility Decision: Vanda Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. West-Ward Pharmaceuticals (issued June 7, 2018)
- Federal Register notice requesting comments on the Berkheimer memorandum and other eligibility guidance (published April 20, 2018)
- Memorandum - Revising 101 Eligibility Procedure in view of Berkheimer v. HP, Inc. (issued April 19, 2018)
- Memorandum - Recent Subject Matter Eligibility Decisions: Finjan and Core Wireless (issued April 2, 2018)
- Comments received in response to the April 2018 request for comments on the Berkheimer memorandum and other eligibility guidance
- Decisions holding claims eligible (quick reference sheet updated July 23, 2018)
The Ninth Edition, Revision 08.2017 of the MPEP (revised January 2018) incorporated the following documents.
2014 interim guidance on patent subject matter eligibility (2014 IEG)
The 2014 IEG guides USPTO personnel when determining subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101 in view of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, including Alice Corp., Myriad, and Mayo. The 2014 IEG supplements the June 25, 2014 Preliminary Examination Instructions issued in view of Alice Corp. and supersedes the March 4, 2014 Procedure for Subject Matter Eligibility Analysis of Claims Reciting or Involving Laws of Nature/Natural Principles, Natural Phenomena, and/or Natural Products issued in view of Mayo and Myriad.
- 2014 IEG (Federal Register notice issued December 2014)
- 2014 IEG quick reference sheet (December 2014)
- Nature-based product examples (December 16, 2014)
- Abstract idea examples (January 27, 2015)
- Comments received in response to the 2014 interim guidance on patent subject matter eligibility
July 2015 update on subject matter eligibility
This update incorporates public comments on the 2014 IEG. The July 2015 Update includes a set of examples and discusses various issues raised by the public comments, and assists examiners when applying the 2014 IEG during the patent examination process.
- July 2015 update: subject matter eligibility and Federal Register notice (July 30, 2015)
- July 2015 update Appendix 1: examples (July 30, 2015)
- July 2015 update Appendix 2: index of eligibility examples (July 30, 2015)
- July 2015 update Appendix 3: subject matter eligibility court decisions (updated Nov. 4, 2015)
- July 2015 update: interim eligibility guidance quick reference sheet (July 30, 2015)
- Comments received in response to the July 2015 update: subject matter eligibility
May 2016 subject matter eligibility update
The May 2016 Subject Matter Eligibility Update provides a memorandum to the examining corps on best practices for formulating a subject matter eligibility rejection and evaluating the applicant’s response, and additional subject matter eligibility examples in the life sciences area.
- May 2016 update: memorandum and Federal Register notice (May 4, 2016)
- May 2016 update: subject matter eligibility examples: life sciences (May 4, 2016)
- May 2016 update: index of eligibility examples (May 4, 2016)
- May 2016 Update: subject matter eligibility court decisions (Formerly Appendix 3) [updated July 14, 2016]
- Comments received in response to the May 2016 subject matter eligibility update
2016 memoranda on subject matter eligibility decisions
Memoranda discussing subject matter eligibility decisions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
- Enfish, LLC v. Microsoft Corp. and TLI Communications LLC v. A.V. Automotive, LLC (May 19, 2016)
- Rapid Litigation Management v. CellzDirect and Sequenom v. Ariosa (July 14, 2016)
- McRO, Inc. dba Planet Blue v. Bandai Namco Games America Inc. and BASCOM Global Internet Services v. AT&T Mobility LLC (November 2, 2016)
December 2016 business method example update
This update contains subject matter eligibility examples related to business methods, a December 2016 Interim Eligibility Quick Reference Sheet with updated case law graphics, and an updated case law chart and index of examples. This update is a follow-on to the November 2, 2016, memorandum, and provides exemplary subject matter eligibility analyses of hypothetical claims and claims drawn from case law in the area of business methods.
The USPTO has held several events to discuss patent subject matter eligibility and receive feedback from interested members of the public.