Patents protect functional things or designs, methods and processes, and genetically modified plants. Some examples of things that can be patented include technological inventions, pharmaceuticals, and fruits and vegetables that you eat everyday.
So what does your idea need to have in order to be a patentable invention?
Statutory Requirements for Patents:
Generally speaking, the law requires that all inventions meet that four requirements before a patent application can be approved.
- Is the Subject-Matter Patentable?
- The statuory classes – Any invention must fall into at least one of five types of valid inventions:
- Compositions of matter
- Manufactured items
- New uses of any of the above
- Utility – The invention must be considered ‘useful.’ This means that the invention must actually perform some function, no matter how intangible, and it cannot simply be a working theory regarding some product or phenomenon.
- Novelty – The invention must be novel, in that it must be unique and unlike anything that’s already been invented.
- Nonobvious – An invention must not be overly obvious to someone who possesses the average amount of skill and knowledge in the particular area of that invention.
It is difficult to obtain this type of patent (a Utility Patent). Even if the invention or process meets the above requirements, a patent will not be granted if the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in the U.S. or a foreign country more than one year before the application date, or if the invention was in public use or on sale in the U.S. for more than one year before the application date. This rule is known as the “statutory bar.” If you think your technology might be patentable, you should contact a patent attorney before you display or distribute your invention.
To qualify for a design patent, a design must be new, original, and ornamental. Design patents are generally not suitable for protecting elements of Internet-related software processes. Design patents are considered rather narrow intellectual property protection because they are limited to the ornamental appearance of an article.
The one-year grace period following disclosure of the invention is available only in the U.S. In most other countries, the patent application must be filed prior to any public disclosure of the invention.
Patent rights can be contested (1) if someone else has had a patent issued for the same invention before you, or (2) a later patent infringes on your already existing patented invention. These patent disputes often end up settled in court with the winner being awarded money (damages). Doing a complete prior art and patent search is the best way to avoid infringing patent rights or having your patent contested.
For more information on protecting your Patent, contact a Patent Attorney at The PLK Law Group today.