Determining if something is patentable

| Jul 14, 2020 | Patent Law |

Innovations of all sorts can help make personal and professional lives easier. Whether it is a product or process, when such a finding is made, an individual wants to protect an idea or product before sharing it with the general public. This is where a patent could be very resourceful, as this can help protect one’s original innovation.

While a process or product may be original and innovative, this does not mean it is automatically patentable. Patent law covers three main categories; thus, if an innovation falls under one of these categories, it is possible to obtain a patent for it.

The first is a utility patent, which covers new and useful processes, machines, manufacturing, the composition of matter or a new and useful improvement for any of these. In other words, practically everything that can be made and the processes for production used. The second is design patents, which seeks to protect how an article looks. Because most products that are manufactured possess both functional and ornamental characteristics, it is likely that both utility and design patent will be needed to protect an invention.

The final category is a plant patent. This is available in instances where a new variety of plant is discovered and asexually reproduced. Obtaining a patent would protect the rights of the inventor to exclude others from asexually reproducing, selling or using the plant.

While falling into one of these categories is necessary, an invention must also be patentable. This means that it must be useful, novel and nonobvious.  In other words, it must have a useful purpose, be an original idea and is sufficiently different from what was used before and is not obvious change to make from what was used or done previously.

Seeking a patent is often a necessary step for innovators; thus, understanding whether an innovation is patentable is necessary. Even when a patent is sought, it may be determined to be ineligible for a patent. When this occurs, innovators should obtain the information necessary to navigate the matter. This could also help one take the steps necessary to protect an idea, product or process, whether it is through a patent or not.

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