Criteria For Patenting Your Invention Under 101

Criteria For Patenting Your Invention Under 101

August 26, 2022
Walker Weitzel
Patent Attorney , Patent Law , Patent Learning

Patent invention

The patent invention eligibility criteria under Section 101 of the Patent Act states:

Processes, machines, articles of manufacture, and compositions of matter are patentable.”

This can be taken to mean that every new invention involving processes, machines, manufactured products, and a combination of matters can be claimed as patents. Any inventions that do not meet these requirements can be rejected. 

The Patent Act in section 101 further defines the requirements for the eligibility criteria by elaborating the following categories are excluded from being patentable:

  • Abstract matter
  • Natural phenomena
  • Laws of nature 
  • Judicial exceptions 

These categories include mathematical algorithms, mental processes, naturally occurring processes in science and technology, or basic scientific principles. 

There are exceptions to the above criteria if the mathematical processes produce a tangible and useful result or if the processes involve the utilization of machines, articles, and manufacturing to produce a result. 

The 101 section of the Patent Act can be given further clarity by examining the following case:

In re Comiskey, Fed. Cir., No. 2006-1286, 9/20/07.

In the aforementioned case, there were two claims at issue. In the first one, the inventor came up with the method of resolving disputes between two parties by involving a human mediator to make the final decision. 

The second claim required the use of the internet, electronic communication systems such as telephone and video, software applications, and radio to establish or verify the method in the first step. 

The first claim did not include any mechanical or electric device, this coming under the “mental processes” non-requirement in the patent law. Whereas the second claim combines both mental processes and the use of machines to establish a process, therefore being patentable. 

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