In leaving patentability up to the question of utility, American patent law is relatively unusual, in that European patent law does not refer to general usefulness, but rather to the industrial applicability of the technology. Despite this difference, the distinction between the kinds of subject matter falling within the bounds of patentability established in the two regions are generally not very different. The main body of American patent law is addressed toward inventions which can be issued utility plant design.
Due to controversies that have occasionally arisen over the kind of uses which may be allowed for by Section 101, in the early 21st century the USPTO has released statements restating its opinion that certain kinds of products of human creativity and expertise, which include transmitted energy, literature, music, paper documentation on law, and collections of information do not meet the conditions for patentability. It has also welcomed further discussions of the patentability of these forms of human creativity. Transmitted forms of energy have been excluded by American patent law for the specific reason that they are not physically manifest and thus lie outside the proper bounds of the USPTO.
Section 103 of Article 35 also contains provisions on the kinds of subject matter that may be administered by United States patent law. According to the language of this section, subject matter must be “non-obvious” and not readily graspable by individuals “of ordinary art” in the subject matter to constitute original creations.