The four statutory classes of invention are process, machine, manufacture and composition of matter, with exceptions for abstract ideas, physical phenomena and laws of nature.

Whilst abstract ideas are not eligible for patenting, I understand methods and products that employ abstract ideas to perform real world function, may well be.

Where can I see the statutory class under which patents were granted?

Was this patent for the VIX volatility index and derivatives based thereon granted because the abstract notion of volatility was employed to perform the real world function of derivative trading?

Am I missing something in the document?

Kind regards,


1 Answer 1


35 USC 101:

Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.

See Bilski v Kappos 561 U. S. ____ (2010), Mayo v Prometheus 566 U. S. ____ (2012), and Alice v CLS Bank 573 U. S. ____ (2014) for recent restatements of the prohibition on patenting of abstract ideas.

The patent that you link to has not been issued. It is only an application.

  • Thanks! My question should have been: what angle is CBOE is working in their patent application? Alice/Bank decision was because the concept of intermediated settlement was considered an abstract idea (fundamental economic practice/creative building block) & their method of implementation offered no transformation. CBOE seem to have a similar case but think their process of transforming option prices into a volatility measure combined with its use in a derivative contract is transformative enough.
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 14:44
  • On the surface, it seems to take one abstract idea (option prices) and present it using another abstract idea (volatility - standard deviation)
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 14:44
  • 1
    @Pete This CBOE application was written pre-Alice (March 10, 2014 vs. June 19, 2014), so it isn't tailored to address the guidance from Alice.
    – K-C
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 17:16
  • Thanks - I hadn't realised the Alice case was so pivotal. Had assumed the decision making processes based on abstract ideas had been in place a lot longer than they have!
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 17:24
  • 1
    It's actually very messy. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Alice issued seven different opinions from ten judges. They could barely agree on the outcome, let alone the rationale. Many people say that the Supreme Court still hasn't issued clear guidance on the issue.
    – K-C
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 18:12

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