Can I Patent This?

Patentability - a frequent question of first time patent applicants is "Can this kind of thing be patented?. After my little speech that you can only patent inventions, not ideas, I then move into a discussion of how we may have to do a prior art search to see if it is patentable.

But there are a box full of things that are often hard to patent because they have been defined as things that are just too obvious. These need to be understood even before doing a patent search.

Would you like to know what some of these are?

To get into this we will have to review a number of cases that have been hashed out in court. This is where many of these guidelines come from. Don't worry - I will not cite all of the court rulings by name - because you would quickly forget them in any case. We will just talk about the results.

These fall into several major categories. They are things that:

    Are aesthetic design changes.

    Eliminate a step or its function.

    Automate a manual activity.

    Change a size or shape.

    Make something portable, integral, separable, adjustable, or continuous.

    Reverse, duplicate, or re-arrange parts.

    Purify an old product.

Important- these things are not hard rules - but guidelines. I have had examiners reject claims because of one of these guidelines and was able to overcome the objection. But it was not easy.


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Mike Ervin
Mike Ervin - Cost Effective Small Business Patent Protection.

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