Protecting your inventions with a patent shields you from others copying and profiting off of your creation. Not all inventions, however, will qualify for patent protection. U.S. Patent Law lays out the general requirements for a patent. The U.S. Patent and Trade Office (USPTO), as well as established case law, have further unraveled the details of a Patent’s general requirements.
What Qualifies for Patent Protection?
Section 101 of the U.S. Patent Act states:
“Whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvements thereto, may obtain a patent, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title.”
These are the basic, general, requirements for a patent. These general requirements are usually broken down into four more specific prerequisites for a patentable invention. Also, there are three different types of patents:
All have the same requirements except for the utility patent which has an added requirement. These requirements include:
- Usefulness: This requirement only pertains to utility patents. The invention must be currently useful. The usefulness cannot be prospective or potentially occurring in the future. The invention must have some purpose.
- Subject matter eligibility: The invention must fall under a subject matter that Congress has statutorily prescribed as patentable. The courts have established three exceptions to subject matter eligible for a patent including abstract ideas, laws of nature, and natural phenomena. If the subject matter eligibility requirement is not met, it will not matter if the other requirements are satisfied. The invention will not be eligible for patent protection.
- Novelty: The invention must be new. It cannot be the same as something else that has already been publicly disclosed. This means that if the invention was described in a printed publication prior to the submission of the patent application, it would jeopardize the patent approval.
- Non-obvious: This requirement is probably the most hotly contested point and is often the focal point of disagreements between the USPTO and patent applicants. The function of an invention must not be obvious based on what is already publicly known, “to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains.”
If your invention satisfies all of these requirements, you can qualify for patent protection.
Garden City Patent Prosecution Attorneys Fighting for You
If you have successfully applied for and obtained patent protection, you have enforceable legal rights to protect that patent if and when your rights have been infringed upon. If someone has violated your rights as a patent holder, the attorneys at Scully, Scott, Murphy & Presser PC are prepared to hold the patent violator accountable for their wrongdoing. Contact us today.
Posted in: Patents