35 U. S. C. §101 highlights "laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas" as patent-ineligible.

The Alice/Bank case discusses abstract ideas and explains that in applying the §101 exception, a court must distinguish patents that claim the “building blocks” of human ingenuity. Where are the rules written on applying the §101 exceptions?

For a precise definition of what the exceptions are, do I need to review the relevant cases or are they defined somewhere?

  • Perfect, thanks. If you want to throw that down as an answer rather than comment, I'll give it the tick and can close.
    Dec 13, 2016 at 17:18
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    Whatever you think would be most beneficial for the reader. I have posted an answer that gets straight to the point on the definition of an abstract idea which is what I was looking for. Whilst the other question includes the relevant link, the wording of this one makes it a prequel rather than I duplicate, I'd say.
    Dec 21, 2016 at 18:20

1 Answer 1


Abstract ideas have been identified by the courts by way of example, including fundamental economic practices, certain methods of organizing human activities, an idea ‘of itself,’ and mathematical relationships/formulas.

They are the building blocks of human ingenuity.

Full guidance here. This should be read in conjunction with the relevant cases it references to understand the notion of abstract ideas in intellectual property law.

Follow on question here

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