Patent Attorney Jeff Spangler recently attended the PTO’s business method partnership where he received a copy of the written clarification given to examiners to help them determine when a claimed business method is eligible for patent protection as a statutory process under 35 USC 101. According to the memo:
“Based on Supreme Court precedent and recent Federal Circuit decisions, the Offic’s guidance to examiners is that a Section 101 process must (1) be tied to another statutory class (such as a particular apparatus) or (2) transform underlying subject matter (such as an article or material) to adifferent thing. If neither of these requirements is met by the claim, the method is not a patent eligible process under Section 101 and should be rejected as being directed to non-statutory subject matter.
An example of a method claim that would not qualify as a statutory process would be a claim that recited purely mental steps. Thus, to qualify as a Section 101 statutory process, the claim should positively recite the other statutory class (the thing or product) to which it is tied, for example, by identifying the apparatus that accomplishes the method steps, or positively recite the subject matter being transformed, for example by identifying the material that is being changed to a different state.