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 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Sheet Identifying Abstract Ideas" (first issued in July 2015 and updated most recently in July 2018) have been superseded by subsequent guidance.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.

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

Older guidance

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.

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.

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. 

2016 memoranda on subject matter eligibility decisions

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

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.