The United States has traditionally been open to broad areas of patentable subject matter. Title 35 of the U.S. Code, in Section 101, regulates the subject matter of patentable inventions: “Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, … may obtain a patent therefor.”
The U.S. Supreme Court in the past has supported that this section is to be interpreted broadly to cover “anything under the sun that is made by man.” Traditionally unpatentable subject matter includes abstract ideas, laws of nature, natural phenomena and mathematical algorithms. Thus, simply discovering something already in existence in nature is not patentable, but doing something with a naturally occurring item typically would be. For example, while a mathematical algorithm cannot be patented, its adoption as part of a software program useful for running a new business method through a computer system that provides a practical end result would fall within the scope of patentable subject matter.
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