U.S. law has several requirements which must be met for an invention to be patentable.
The invention must be for a useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter. Business methods are currently patentable so long as they produce a tangible result, but the courts are still grappling to determine the limits of which methods are patentable.
The invention must be new to be patentable. If the invention has been previously invented by someone else, even if the inventor had no idea that it had been invented by someone else, the second inventor cannot patent the invention.
The invention cannot be an obvious improvement of another invention. Generally, the patent office determines obviousness by comparing the applicant’s invention to one or more prior inventions and determining whether the applicant’s invention is an obvious variation of the prior inventions. The basic test is if a person of ordinary skill would have thought it was obvious to modify previous inventions to reach the new invention, then it is not patentable.
In some cases, an invention that meets all of the above requirements may still not be patentable due to disclosure of the invention. In certain cases, public disclosure or an offer for sale can prevent patentability. Before you make any type of disclosure of your invention, or offer it for sale, you should contact us to help you prevent a loss of rights in your invention. Click here for a further discussion of the disclosure requirements.
If you believe you have a patentable invention, contact us today to learn how we can help you patent and protect your invention.