The "printed matter" doctrine states that elements claiming printed matter—e.g., text printed on paper or some other substrate—bear no patentable weight unless the printed matter and the substrate are functionally related. As the Federal Circuit explained today:
[P]rinted matter encompasses any information claimed for its communicative content, and the doctrine prohibits patenting such printed matter unless it is “functionally related” to its “substrate,” which encompasses the structural elements of the claimed invention.
In its decision, the Federal Circuit noted the Court has—incredibly—never addressed whether a claim directed to printed matter is ineligible under § 101:
Notably, since the Supreme Court articulated its two-step framework in Alice, this court has not directly addressed whether …