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What Is Patentable Subject Matter?

The § 101 Rule:

  • Process
  • Machine
  • Manufacture (manufactured product)
  • Composition of matter
  • Any new and useful improvement (of anything on this list)

What Is NOT Patentable Subject Matter?

  • Abstract ideas (e.g., mathematical concepts, methods of organizing human activity, mental processes)
  • Laws of nature
  • Natural phenomenon

What does that mean? If you conceive a new idea that is initially not patentable subject matter, integrate that new idea into a practical (real-life) application, or have some additional element beyond the abstract idea.


  1. Apply a mathematical equation to a pump operation.
  2. Computer application. Software by itself is not patent eligible, so the app by itself does not meet the criteria. However, how the app collects data, transforms it into a process (e.g., actions), and how those actions affect a real-world practical user experience, may meet the criteria.
Category: Intellectual Property, Patents