Inventors and discoverers have been taking out patents on their brand new material for many decades. Not only can patents ensure you will be given the appropriate credit for your discovery or invention, they also ensure no one can steal or copy your concept and that you and your object or idea are legally protected in the case of litigation issues. Patents are extremely useful legal contracts, especially in the beginning stages of an item’s creation and progression into common use or availability. They serve to protect objects and ideas and associate them with their original owners from their very inception. As an inventor or discoverer, you may be wondering if your particular creation is eligible for a patent. Fortunately, United States patent laws have made it fairly simple to tell if your contrivance is patentable.
Does My Object or Idea Fit Into One of the Patentable Categories?
In general, a thing or a concept must be classifiable in one of the following categories in order to be eligible for a patent. If you can easily fit the thing in question into one of these definitions, then it is very possible you are dealing with something patentable.
- Utility Patents: This broad category includes most patentable things, such as processes, machines, manufactured items or compositions of matter. Combinations of ingredients and chemical compounds fall into the compositions of matter category, while manufactured items include anything that is made and machines encompass a wide array of technological inventions and tools.
- Design Patents: These types of patents deal primarily with the outward look or surface of an item, rather than its function. Design patents are taken out on the ornamental qualities of an object. Keep in mind that some things will necessitate both a utility patent to cover their functionality and a design patent to cover their aesthetic appearance.
- Plant Patents: If your discovery or invention is botanical in nature and has never before been recorded, then you may have a plant patent on your hands. In order to be eligible for a plant patent, you must be able to asexually reproduce – that is, duplicate via a method other than seed – your plant.
What Other Regulations Are Involved With Patent Law?
If your object or idea fits into one of these categories, you will also want to be sure it meets the following criteria in order to be eligible for patent protection.
- Novelty: A utility, design or plant must be truly new in order to be protected with a patent. If it has been known to or used by others or described, recorded, sold or patented in some previous form, then it is not considered novel.
- Usefulness: A potentially patented object must be useful and able to perform as it is intended to. A machine, for example, that does not do what it is made to do, would not be considered useful.
- Non-obviousness: Things and ideas that qualify for new patents must be appreciably different from similar objects or concepts that have come before them. These differences must be non-obvious, and the newly proposed item must be distinctive enough from everything else in existence to be deserving of its own patent.
What Cannot Be Patented?
Even if your item or concept does meet the regulations above, there are certain exceptions in which something simply cannot be patented. Generally, if something is universally available or considered commonplace or common knowledge, it cannot be patented. Recognized laws of nature and abstract ideas would fit into this category. Machines that proclaim perpetual motion have thus far been impossible to patent. Additionally, there are strict stipulations involving the patenting of nuclear technology and atomic weaponry, and it is very difficult to patent these types of inventions.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.