Anyone who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvements thereof, may obtain a patent.” US Patent Law
Several factors determine whether or not an idea is patentable including whether the invention is truly new, is useful and non-obvious. Processes, machinery, compositions of matter, designs, plants and even sub-molecular units may be patented. The various classes of subject matter that may be patented include virtually everything man made and their manufacturing processes.
The term “useful’ in the statute has a specific legal meaning. Usefulness refers to whether or not the invention will operate to perform its intended purpose. An example of an invention that is not useful would be a perpetual motion machine, which would not be granted a patent.
The term “obvious” in this context refers to whether “a person having ordinary skill in the area of technology related to the invention” would find the invention “sufficiently different from what has been used or described before.” Changes in color or size would be examples of “obviousness” that are not patentable.
If you’ve asked yourself, “Can I Patent My Idea?”, contact us today for to discuss the particulars.
– Van Irion, Knoxville Intellectual Property Attorney