35 U.S.C. 101 sets out the standard for what is considered patentable subject matter. Generally, “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.” See 35 U.S.C. § 101.
However, the Supreme Court has held that “laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas” are not considered to be patentable subject matter. Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175, 185 (1981). The Court has reasoned that these concepts and ideas are the basic set of scientific and technological work and that permitting any one person or company exclusive use of these basic tools would prevent innovation, rather than help to promote it. Mayo Collaborative Servs. v. Prometheus Labs., Inc., 566 U.S. 66, 71 (2012). That being said, a specific application of a “law of nature, physical phenomena, [or] abstract idea” is patentable.