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USPTO Issues New Subject Matter Eligibility Examination Interim Guidelines –Abstract Idea Guidance

  • 12.15.14
  • Michelle Holoubek & Lestin Kenton
  • Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox

On December 15, 2014, the USPTO issued Interim Guidance for examination of subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. § 101. These new guidelines largely follow the previous interim guidelines issued on June 25, 2014, in view of CLS v. Alice (2014), with some additional details. The new guidelines have also combined that earlier guidance for claims reciting abstract ideas with the March 4, 2014, guidance for claims reciting natural phenomena/laws of nature.

Under the new guidelines, the examiner will first determine whether the claim is directed to one of the four accepted statutory categories. If it does, examiners are instructed to apply the 2-part patent-eligibility analysis, as articulated by the Supreme Court in Alice. Examiners are instructed to apply the 2-part analysis to the broadest reasonable interpretation of the claims when analyzed as a whole. Importantly, the Guidance also confirms that “[e]very claim must be examined individually, based on the particular elements recited therein, and should not be judged to automatically stand or fall with similar claims in an application.”

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