Patent Novelty 101: What Inventors Need to Keep in Mind
Your invention or idea must be novel to receive a patent. It must include at least one inventive step, and it must have a useful purpose. This is known as patent novelty, and it is one of the first things any inventor must consider before filing a patent application. The reality is that the concept of patent novelty isn’t as abstract as it may first appear.
Novelty = Not Public
The invention must be new and unknown to the public. This means that it can’t exist in the marketplace. It can’t be included within published marketing materials, websites, or other outlets. This includes public presentations at trade fairs or other venues where individuals and entities outside of the development process can obtain knowledge about the product or process. When an invention is not kept confidential, it loses its eligibility for a patent. Thus, it is imperative to keep all aspects of the design a closely guarded secret until after you have filed the patent application with the United States Patent Trademark Office (USPTO).
Novelty = New Use
Novelty can be a spectacular new, never before manufactured product, or an entirely new use for an old product or process. The rules here are deliberately vague and mean that even with small modifications and adjustments, an individual can obtain a patent. Office supplies are a great example of this. There are dozens of types of staples, paperclips, and tapes. Each does the same thing as the other, but their design, material composition, size, and other features set them apart. These variations make them eligible for a patent.
Establishing Patent Novelty
It is fabulous to have an idea, and it is even better to have a plan to bring that idea to life. However, just because it is a great idea and your plans for production, marketing, and distribution are solid, there are other things you need to consider before moving forward.
The first thing you need to do is plenty of homework. Research the industries associated with your intended product/process. Make sure that someone else didn’t already think up your idea and put it into action. While it may seem like a rare coincidence, the fact is that many great ideas are already in play, and it is common for inventors to hit upon the same ideas at roughly the same time.
It is also advisable to research existing patents in the United States and around the world. You can do this via searches through the USPTO website as well as numerous patent publications. Searching existing patents is vital because you don’t want to expend significant time and resources pursuing a patent that is in the pipeline or currently in force. At a minimum, you will want to search American, European, and Asian databases to ensure that a PCT is not on record.
Plan to spend at least a few days, and possibly longer, as you research the various publications and databases. The more complex your invention, the more time you will want to invest in this process. Even if you have previous experience filing patent applications, it is advisable to enlist the assistance of a patent attorney to verify that your product/process meets the criteria for patent novelty.
Global Patent Solutions helps companies establish the patent novelty required to secure a patent using our comprehensive patent search services. Contact us to discuss your specific needs and discover the solutions we offer that can help you achieve your goals.