What can a utility patent cover?
A utility patent can cover a useful process, machine, article of manufacture or composition of matter. Getting a utility patent usually involves arguing that the invention is adequately described and that it is both new and non-obvious. The requirement that the invention be "useful" is almost always easily satisfied. Patent law does not require that the invention be more useful, more economical or somehow more attractive than something already on the market. When it comes to usefulness, the marketplace provides a much more severe test than does a patent examiner.
Some things are excluded from utility patent protection, but may qualify for
other sorts of intellectual property protection. The
list of excluded items, and the definition of each of those items varies from
one country to another, and often from one year to the next. Generally
speaking, the list includes laws of nature (which usually includes
mathematics), textual or graphical works, and things that allege to be
perpetual motion machines. Software is one of the more interesting and
financially important technologies that can run into "non-statutory subject
matter" problems even though patents for inventions in which the only
innovative feature is software have been granted for years (Arguably, the first
software patent was issued in 1841 to Samuel Morse whose code turned the
already-known combination of a battery, a switch and a buzzer into a
telecommunication system). Although
Patent = A license to sue
A patent grants its owner the right to stop others from
"infringing" the patent by making, selling, or using the claimed
invention without permission. Coverage does not rely on the accused
infringer having copied or derived a product from what was patented – i.e.,
someone who thought the same thing up independently can still be an infringer.
Conversely, someone who copies the basic idea behind a patented product but who
comes up with another way of providing the end user with the same benefit is
NOT necessarily an infringer. Patents only cover what they claim, and every
patent is a challenge to other clever people to figure out a different, non-infringing,
way of reaching the same goal..
What is worth patenting?
Many things that meet the basic legal tests of utility, novelty and
non-obviousness, can be patented but are not worth the time and expense
involved. Some things to consider before proceeding with a patent are:
A discussion of the steps involved in getting a patent in
Registered Patent Agent
St. Petersburg FL 33705-5305
+1 (727) 656-0669 voice
+1 (760) 841-0989 fax
questions to: [email protected]
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