Despite its decision, the Court gives surprisingly little guidance one what an abstract idea actually IS. As a result, there will be LOTS of commentary on this case, with a vast number of interpretations. In any event, here is how I read the tea leaves: The Court states that the framework for distinguishing patents that claim laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas from those that claim patent-eligible applications of those concepts is a two-step process. First, you determine whether the claims at issue are directed to one of those patent-ineligible concepts. Second, if so, review the other matter in the claims to see whether the additional elements transform the nature of the claim into a patent-eligible application. Step two of that process is a search for an 'inventive concept’. — The court states that an inventive concept is an element or combination of elements that is sufficient to ensure that the patent in practice amounts to significantly more than a patent upon the ineligible concept itself. Good luck with that circularity.
The full case cite is: Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International et al., 573 U.S. __ (2014).