The excitement of a new idea comes with a lot of uncertainty. Is it a unique idea or has someone else thought of it? If it is new, is your idea patentable?
Your idea is patentable if it fits into 2 main criteria. These criteria are patentable subject matter and distinctiveness. Without meeting these two basics, you won’t get the patent you seek. If your idea fits into these categories you are all set to go!
Criteria #1: Patentable Subject Matter
This first criterion has four categories to help you determine if your idea is patentable. As you look at these categories, you may find that your idea fits into more than one case. That is perfectly fine! Your idea does not have to fit into one category, it just has to fit into at least one to be patentable.
These categories are:
When you think of a machine, you may think of a car or a hairdryer; something with multiple, interacting moving parts. A machine can also be created from fixed parts. For example, an electrical outlet has no moving parts. It’s the fixed parts working together to form some function that make it a machine.
Manufacture is similar to a machine, however, it does not have any interacting parts. While the parts don’t interact, it still completes a function – like a pencil. A pencil does not move nor have parts that interact with each other. The good news is, you can use it to sketch up an idea you can develop into your next invention. .
Composition of Matter
A composition of matter is a combination of chemicals. Certain chemicals can be combined to create a medication… Others can create a cleaning solution. These individual chemicals have existed before, and it is this new combination which is patentable.
This category means your idea provides a new way of completing a task. It could be a new way to build guitars. You may not have made any kind of innovation to the end product, however, you may have discovered a new, faster, easier way to satisfy your inner rock-star.
Finding a Category
Fitting your idea or invention into a category is critical. If your invention fits into one or more of these categories, it may qualify for a utility patent. A utility patent is the most common patent, compared to a design patent that is only used for design reasons or aesthetics. If your invention fits into one of these categories, it’s time to see if it fits into the second criteria.
Criteria #2 – Prior Art, or Distinctiveness
To qualify for a patent, you also have to ask yourself “Does my idea already exist?”.
If you find that there are similar products and ideas out there, don’t be discouraged. You see, your idea might have enough creativity behind it to be its own thing. There is more research that goes into finding out if your idea is distinctive enough. For now, we have noted what the two pantable criteria are, and we can take our next steps into receiving a patent!
We understand it may be difficult to determine if your invention meets the criteria for patent.
If you have questions about whether or not your invention is patentable, I’d like to invite you to a complimentary patent strategy call.
This is where a member of my team connects with you by phone at the time of your choosing.
While intellectual property protection might be difficult and confusing, we patiently listen to you, help you understand all your options, and then follow the best path to protect your valuable idea.