What Can Be Patented: Exploring What Qualifies For Patents.

Legal rights called patents protect inventions, preventing others from copying, using, or selling them without the inventor’s permission.

Patents can be valuable assets for individuals and businesses who want to benefit from their innovative ideas.

There are certain criteria and requirements that an invention must meet to be eligible for patent protection.

In this article, we will explain what individuals can patent, what cannot receive patents, and the various types of patents that are available.

What can be patentedCourtesy:Meta
What can be patented
Courtesy:Meta

What is a Patent?

The government grants an exclusive right for an invention through a patent.

An invention, which can be a product or a process offering a new way of doing something or a novel technical solution to a problem, qualifies for this right.

Patent gives the inventor the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or importing the invention without their consent for a limited period of time, usually 20 years from the date of filing the patent application.

Additionally, an inventor must disclose the technical information about the invention to the public in a patent document to obtain a patent.

This document is accessible through online databases like PATENTSCOPE.

What Can Be Patented?

According to the U.S.The Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can grant a patent to an invention if it fulfills four requirements:

  • It must have a useful purpose. The invention must have some practical utility or benefit to society.
  • It must have patentable subject matter. The invention must fall within one of the four categories of patentable subject matter: process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter.
  • It must be novel. The invention must not be identical or equivalent to any prior art, which is any public disclosure of the invention or a similar one before the filing date of the patent application.
  • It must be non-obvious. The invention must not be obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the art, which is the field of technology related to the invention.

These requirements apply to all types of patents, but there are some variations depending on the type of patent sought.

The USPTO recognizes three types of patents: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents.

Utility Patents

They are the most common type of patents, covering inventions that have a specific function or use.

Utility patents can protect new or improved processes, machines, articles of manufacture, or compositions of matter.

Examples of utility patents are software algorithms, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and mechanical devices.

Design Patents

They are patents that protect the ornamental appearance or shape of an article of manufacture.

Design patents do not cover the functional aspects of the article, only its aesthetic features. Examples of design patents are jewelry designs, furniture designs, and graphical user interfaces.

Plant Patents

Plant patents protect new and distinct varieties of plants that undergo asexual reproduction.

Asexual reproduction refers to reproducing plants through methods other than seeds, such as cuttings or grafting.

Examples of plant patents are new varieties of roses, orchids, and apples.

What Cannot Be Patented?

Not everything new and useful can receive a patent.

There are some exceptions and exclusions to patentable subject matter that are based on legal principles, public policy, or moral grounds.

Some examples of what cannot be patented are:

  • Abstract ideas.These ideas aren’t tied to any concrete or tangible application or implementation. Examples of abstract ideas include mathematical formulas, natural laws, and mental processes.
  • Laws of nature.These are phenomena that exist in nature and are not the result of human intervention.
    Examples of laws of nature are gravity, electromagnetism, and photosynthesis
  • Natural phenomena. These are products or events that occur naturally and are not modified by human activity. Examples of natural phenomena are minerals, plants, and animals.
  • Physical phenomena. These are observable facts or occurrences that result from natural laws or processes. Examples of physical phenomena are electricity, magnetism, and light.
  • Printed matter. These are works that consist solely of words, symbols, numbers, or pictures without any functional relationship to the underlying article or substance. Examples of printed matter are books, newspapers, and posters.
  • Human organisms. These are living beings that belong to the species Homo sapiens. Examples of human organisms are embryos, fetuses, and clones.

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