An invention is usually a new or different way, technique, composition or system. It can be an original development on a product or technology or an entirely new method for producing an item or a new procedure for building an object. Often, the idea of an invention is sparked by a need, desire or a need for something better, more efficient or simply to make something that someone could not do or would not do. There are many ways to find inventive ideas and to apply them into a practical invention.
The patent office is designed to control how innovations are protected. The purpose of this office is to maintain the public’s right to free speech and to protect innovations and inventions that have been created. Inventors and assignees must file a patent application in order to receive protection. If you are considering a patent for an invention, it is important that you know what requirements must be met for your invention to meet the legal requirements for patenting.
Ideas can be protected by law in many ways. Under the doctrine of patentability these innovations become protected by law, if the USPTO or the assignee, which is you, can demonstrate that the invention was produced by you under your exclusive rights and that no one else has made any improvement on it since your invention. There are two things to keep in mind when determining whether your invention meets this requirement. First, if your invention does not fall within one of the existing patent requirements then it will not receive protection from the USPTO. Second, if your invention is substantially similar to an existing product or technology, or if it is new to the industry, it will probably be granted protection by patent.
Prior Art is an invention’s critical point. Prior art refers to ideas, procedures, processes, designs, documents or systems that an invention may have been modified to avoid infringements. In order to determine if an invention meets the prior art requirement an attorney or IAAI will review the prior art. This is done through a process of examining the prior art for copies or modifications. The process stops when the IAAI or patent examiner determines that the invention is infringed.
A second requirement of the USPTO for patenting new inventions is that inventors provide samples of their invention. This requirement may seem obvious; however, it is important for the patent office to review samples because some inventors inadvertently make claims in their inventions which are legally inaccurate. In addition, even if an invention meets all other requirements of a patent, it will still not be granted protection if it is clearly structuring to violate the law. For example, it is often illegal to design a cell phone that can send or receive emails. However, if the patent applicant simply adds a sending and receiving feature to the cell phone he or she will likely be able to patent the invention.
While it is always great to know that innovations can result in wealth for generations of innovators, it is also important to remember that it takes decades of difficult work to create new innovations. Thus, it is extremely unlikely that you will see your particular invention granted protection in one sitting. Many inventions take several years before being released into the market place. Patents should not be seen as guarantees that future inventions will work – they should be seen as assurances that the inventors who come up with them have taken an honest and thoughtful effort to develop their ideas.