Your invention must satisfy seven substantive requirements, commonly referred to as patentability requirements, before it can be patented. The patentability requirements are frequently misunderstood, even by the United States Supreme Court. If you are thinking about getting a patent, here are seven things you should consider first:
1. Marketable Subject Matter: The claimed device needs to show patent-eligible subject matter. In other words, it has to be something designed to be protected by the patent laws. This includes software, genes, living matter, and even business methods that are bound to a type of material device. To determine the marketability of your invention, you need to decide if potential consumers will make an investment in the invention.
2. Inventor: A patent is issued only if you are the inventor or co-inventor of the device. Anyone who contributes at least one non-obvious and novel concept to help make the invention patentable is a co-inventor. In patent drafting language, a co-inventor must provide something valuable to a minimum of one of the patent claims.
3. Ownership: Just because you are the inventor of something does not necessarily mean that you are the owner of the device. This is particularly correct if you invented something while you were employed. If that was the case, your employer may own the device if you created it during your employment term, it relates to the company’s current or planned business, or it was designed on company time.
4. Usefulness and Utility: You can receive a patent only if your idea is useful. In other words, what you invented must have a useful purpose and be functional for that intended purpose. Under the United States patent laws, aesthetic or artistic works are not deemed useful. Considering that your invention does something, such as makes a product or produces a result, establishing usefulness should not be an issue.
5. Patent Classes: A patentable invention must fit into one of four classes established by the statute. The four classes are composition of matter, articles of manufacture, machines, and processes and methods. If your innovation is functional, demonstrating that your invention fits into one of these classes will not be a problem.
6. Novelty: Your innovation must vary from all prior inventions or current information to be eligible for a patent. Your invention will presumably be considered to be new if it is in some way physically different from previous designs. However, only the first inventor can apply for and receive a patent for an innovation. Furthermore, if a printed publication describes your invention, or it is used publicly or offered for sale, you must apply for a patent within one year. If you don’t apply during the first year, you will lose any right to a patent.
7. Non-Obvious to Other Inventors: All inventions must meet a non-obviousness requirement. To determine if your innovation satisfies this condition, consider if those who work in the field would recognize the device as obvious. Even if the subject matter you want to patent is new and differs from the most closely related form already identified, your request for a patent may still be denied if the variations are obvious. The device must be significantly different from what has been previously described or used, and be something that an individual with average skills in the relevant technology would consider non-obvious.
The patent grant is presumptive in the United States. In other words, the Patent Office has the burden to prove why they should not grant a patent. Once they issue a patent, it is considered valid and can only be declared it void by explicit and credible evidence. Before moving forward with a patent, make sure you consider these seven items carefully and fully understand the terms of patentability.
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