Subject matter eligibility (examination guidance by date of issuance)

This is an archival page that lists patent subject matter eligibility guidance under 35 U.S.C. 101 prior to the 2019 PEG by date of issuance.  Please take note that these documents have been incorporated into the MPEP. Eligibility-related guidance issued prior to the Ninth Edition, Revision 08.2017, of the MPEP (revised January 2018) 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Sheet Identifying Abstract Ideas" (first issued in July 2015 and updated most recently in July 2018) have been superseded by the 2019 PEG.

Current guidance, training and other information is provided on the Subject matter eligibility page.

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.

July 2015 update on subject matter eligibility

This update incorporates public comments on the 2014 IEG.  The July 2015 Update includes a new 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.

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,
  • additional subject matter eligibility examples in the life sciences area, and
  • an open-ended comment period to permit ongoing public comments on subject matter eligibility topics.

 The May 2016 Subject Matter Eligibility Update also announces the selection of subject matter eligibility rejections as a new case study under the Topic Submission for Case Studies Pilot Program.

Memoranda on recent subject matter eligibility decisions

Memoranda discussing recent subject matter eligibility decisions from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

December 2016 business method example update

This update contains new 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.