Can You Patent?

Brief Explanation of the Patent System:

What is a Patent?

According to the USPTO:

“A patent is a property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.”

Who is considered an Inventor?

To be considered an Inventor vying for a patent one must fulfill certain standards:

  • You originated some part of the work that is in question for a patent
  • You or your partners worked together to develop the idea through collective research and work
  • Note: the actual practice, experimentation or supervision of an idea being invented does not accurately describe an inventor. Only if you are actively involved in the process of the making the invention should one be considered the inventor.

What can be Patented?

Your work is patentable if it meets 5 criteria:

1. Patentable Subject Matter: Process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter, improvement of any of the above.

      • What is not Patentable: Laws of nature, physical phenomena, Abstract ideas, Literary (dramatic, musical, and artistic works), those inventions that are useful or offensive to the public

2. Utility: What is the purpose of your innovation? Do you, as the inventor, still need to find its function? Before applying for a patent your innovation requires a use, function, or purpose. It can not be determined, or researched more during the patent process. You invention is not required to be made, built or constructed to be patented, but its use must be predetermined.

3. Novelty: Is your innovation new and original? Has your idea already been patented, printed, or in use for over a year? If your idea is to be patented it must not be in use for up to a year of the filing. Your innovation should be new and innovative. Initially it should be something that others have not already processed and patented.

4. Nonobviousness: Does your innovation take the extra step? Does it take your field one notch further? Your innovation must have a non-obviousness aspect to construct its patent. The innovation must be novel and bring your studies to a new level that it has yet to be reached. Therefore, it must be useful to your field and be an additive to the process of your research or innovation.

5. Describable : Do you know the specific way to enact your invention? Can you describe it in detail? The requirement to be able to describe your innovation in complete confidence, with precise detail so that someone in your field could repeat the process, is required of you to achieve a patent.

Types of Patents:

Utility -Useful process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter

Design – Ornamental Characteristics

Plant – new variety of asexually produced plants


 Types of Application:

Provisional Application: Is a lower costing patent, but can only be enacted for 12 months. The inventor, or parties involved, must file for a non-provisional application before the 12 month period is exceeded. If this period is exceeded then the rights to your project may be lost.

Non-Provisional Application: This is either a Utility, Design, or Plant patent that has met the requirements of a patent, which has been listed above. This type of application is only applied for when the invention can and will meet all the criteria to obtain a full fledged patent. This kind of patent will last for 20 years, and full rights are granted to the parties involved.

Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT): This type of patent is used to protect your innovation internationally. The process is very costly as there are translation fees, intrinsic dates to keep, and international examinations costs. This type of patent is highly valuable as it allows you to own your project exclusively in the world, or select countries you choose to patent in.


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