Intellectual Property

Patentable Subject Matter

Congress specifically listed four types of things as patentable:

  1. Processes
  2. Machines
  3. Manufactures
  4. Compositions of matter

35 U.S.C. § 101.

Discoveries of natural phenomena, products or laws of nature, and abstract ideas are not patentable.


Processes, including business methods are patentable, but they cannot just be abstract ideas.

If a patent claim is over an excluded subject matter, it must have an "inventive concept" that transforms the idea into a patent-eligible invention.

You cannot patent food recipes, even though it would seem to fit the requirements. They would have to be trade secrets instead.