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Patent Eligibility: Find the “Practical Application”

It should become easier to obtain patents for computer-implemented inventions, now that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published revised guidance on what constitutes patent-eligible subject matter. The guidance, published January 7, 2019, addresses what many believe is the USPTO inconsistently rejecting patent applications if the patent examiner determined the claim was “directed to an abstract idea,” even if the application recited significantly more than that abstract idea itself. Under the new guidance, even if a claim recites an abstract idea, it will not be considered to be directedto the abstract idea if the claim includes elements that integrate that abstract idea into a “practical application.” The guidance highlights examples of elements that integrate abstract ideas into practical applications, such as elements that improve the functioning of a computer and elements that affect a particular treatment of a medical condition.