Inventorship Requirement: Who Qualifies for a Patent?
In order to obtain a patent, you must be the inventor of the invention. According to the patent statute, “whoever invents… may obtain a patent.” This means that if you see an existing product and did not come up with the idea for it, you cannot patent it. The rights to a patent are assigned to companies by their inventors. For example, when an engineer solves a problem and comes up with an invention, they assign the rights of that invention to their company.
32 Types of Inventions: Can You Patent [X]?
1. Can You Patent an Existing Product?
No, you cannot obtain a patent for an existing product because it fails to meet the novelty and inventorship requirements. If you come across a product online and did not invent it, you cannot patent it. The product is not new as it already exists.
2. Can You Patent a Similar Product?
Yes, you can patent a similar product as long as there are nonobvious differences between the two. For instance, if you invent a larger tripod that is similar but not identical to an existing mini tripod, you can obtain a patent for it. The determining factor is whether the differences between the two products are nonobvious.
3. Can You Patent a Combination of Existing Products?
Yes, you can patent a combination of existing products if the combination is nonobvious. Most inventions fall into this category as they involve using previously developed ideas and products. For example, if you invent an electric car by combining an electric motor with the technology of a gasoline car, you can patent it. The novelty requirement is met as long as the combination is new.
4. Can You Patent a New Use for an Old Product?
While you cannot patent an existing or old product, you can patent an improvement or a new use for it, provided the new use is nonobvious and not inherent in the original use. For example, if you use a screwdriver to pump air into a tire, the new method of using the old product can be patented. However, if the new use is inherently obvious, such as prying things open with a screwdriver, it may not be patentable.
5. Can You Patent an Idea?
No, you cannot patent an idea if it only identifies a result. However, if the idea is a specific machine, process, manufacture, or composition of matter, it can be patented. For instance, you cannot patent the idea of space travel, but if you invent a space shuttle that teaches how to achieve space travel, you can obtain a patent.
6. Can You Patent a Concept?
Similar to an idea, you cannot patent a concept if it only identifies a result. However, if the concept is a specific machine, process, manufacture, or composition of matter, it can be patented. For example, a space shuttle is a patentable concept, whereas space travel itself is not.
7. Can You Patent a Business Idea?
You can patent a business idea if it is a business method. However, many business methods fall into the exceptions to eligibility. A business idea is defined as a method of doing business, which is one of the four categories of inventions that can be patented. However, many business methods are considered abstract ideas, which may not be eligible for patent protection.
8. Can You Patent a Website Idea?
Generally, a website idea cannot be patented unless it provides additional usefulness or functionality. The concept of a website alone may have issues with the abstract idea exception. However, the layout and aesthetics of a website can be protected by a design patent.
9. Can You Patent Software?
Software can be patented as long as it does not fall under the category of abstract ideas. It can be protected as a series of steps or as a machine loaded on a computer. However, many software inventions are rejected due to their classification as abstract ideas.
10. Can You Patent a Mobile App?
A mobile app, being a software program, can be eligible for patent protection as a process or a machine. However, many mobile apps are considered abstract ideas and may not be patentable.
11. Can You Patent Code?
No, you cannot patent software code itself. Software code is protected by copyrights.
12. Can You Patent a Video Game?
Yes, you can patent a video game, depending on the aspect you’re trying to protect. Various aspects such as hardware, accessories, and interconnectivity can be patented. However, video games often face rejection on the grounds of being abstract ideas.
13. Can You Patent a Toy?
Toys can be patented, typically protected as a design patent.
14. Can You Patent a Process or Method?
Both processes and methods can be patented as long as they meet the requirements of being useful and nonobvious.
15. Can You Patent a Service?
Services can be patented, such as a new method of assembling a teddy bear.
16. Can You Patent a Recipe?
Recipes can be patented if they involve a new process or composition of matter. However, trade secret protection is often chosen for recipes.
17. Can You Patent Food?
While food is typically protected as a trade secret, it can be patented if it is a non-naturally occurring sequence.
18. Can You Patent a Font?
Fonts cannot be patented as they are considered aesthetic in nature. Copyright protection may be suitable, although styles cannot be copyrighted.
19. Can You Patent a Design?
Designs can be protected with design patents, which specifically cover the layout and aesthetics of a design.
20. Can You Patent a Dance?
Dances cannot be patented, but copyright protection may apply. However, if a dance involves the use of specific tools or devices, it can be patented.
21. Can You Patent a Drink?
Drinks are typically not eligible for patent protection unless they involve additional functional aspects.
22. Can You Patent a Dye or Color?
Colors can be protected by patents if they serve a functional purpose, such as the use of eyewear to highlight colors.
23. Can You Patent Jewelry?
Jewelry is often protected by copyright as it is considered a form of sculpture.
24. Can You Patent a Jewelry Design?
Jewelry designs can be protected with design patents.
25. Can You Patent a Clothing Design?
Functional clothing can be patented, but pure design is not considered useful and cannot be protected with a utility patent. Copyrights or design patents are more suitable for protecting clothing designs.
26. Can You Patent a Joke?
Jokes cannot be patented unless they involve the use of specific tools or devices.
27. Can You Patent a Logo?
Logos cannot be patented, but they can be protected with trademarks.
28. Can You Patent a Model?
Models themselves are not patentable, although a working prototype is not always necessary to obtain a patent.
29. Can You Patent a Perpetual Motion Machine?
Perpetual motion machines are not patentable as they are deemed not useful and cannot be enabled for one skilled in the art.
30. Can You Get a Patent on Your Name?
Names cannot be patented, but they may qualify for trademark protection.
31. Can You Patent Your DNA?
You cannot patent your DNA as it is not considered new. However, non-naturally occurring sequences can be patented.
32. Can You Patent Yourself?
You cannot patent yourself as you are not new.
For more information and guidance on patenting different types of inventions, visit Garrity Traina.