Subject matter eligibility

Starting in 2014, we’ve issued guidance explaining how our patent examiners should evaluate claims for patent subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. 101. This guidance was in response to decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court on claims reciting judicial exceptions including abstract ideas, laws of nature, and natural phenomena, as well as feedback received from the public. Since then, we have issued several supplements to this guidance based on judicial decisions and public feedback. 

Examination guidance

You may also view guidance documents by their date of issuance. 


Below are example sets illustrating exemplary subject matter eligibility analyses of hypothetical claims and claims drawn from case law. These examples are a teaching tool to assist examiners and the public in understanding how the Office applies the eligibility guidance in certain fact-specific situations.

The index of examples provides information about the examples, including subject matter, statutory category, judicial exception (if any), and relevant considerations.

Other materials

These documents provide summaries and additional information for use with the 2014 IEG.

How to comment

We are interested in receiving public feedback on this guidance, particularly the May 2016 subject matter eligibility update and the life sciences example .  The comment period is open-ended, and comments will be accepted on an ongoing basis.

Anyone may submit written comments to Email comments submitted in plain text are preferred, but also may be submitted in ADOBE® portable document format or MICROSOFT WORD® format. Because comments will be available to the public, information that is not desired to be made public, such as an address or a phone number, should not be included in the comments.

Comments are available for public viewing here:


The USPTO has held several events to discuss patent subject matter eligibility and receive feedback from interested members of the public.