PBL Guide to Patenting
There are certain basic qualifying criteria for a patentable invention. The invention must be:
Inventions must be new. A thing may lack novelty if it is disclosed or made available in any shape or form. Novelty may be lost if the thing is disclosed such that it is freely accessible by anyone, whether or not someone actually accesses it. The patent examination process will search public records pre-dating the filing date of the patent for ANY reference that may include a description even partially matching the contents of the patent.
Disclosures may be made in many different ways such as:
Some forms of communication may not be considered "disclosures", for example:
Inventions must be inventive or "non-obvious". The patent must describe an invention that is not obvious to a person "skilled in the art" from the entire/collective body of publicly available knowledge ("prior art") existing at the date the patent application was filed. This is usually the most contentious issue in determining patentability.
This must be discernible from the patent application as filed, ie there must be a clear utility for the invention, eg, to solve an existing problem, however simple. 'Discernible' means more than mere speculation or guessing and in certain jurisdictions, such as the USA, it is strongly advisable that an industrial utility allegation in the description is backed up by experimental work that points to that perceivable industrial utility.
An idea, a discovery or an observation is NOT PATENTABLE by itself eg, an explanation of what is happening in a particular chemical pathway is not enough. Although an invention may be founded on a discovery, the discovery itself is not patentable. A discovery may lead to a patentable invention if the discovery is accompanied by a description of how the discovery is used to form an invention that has a perceivable industrial applicability. The employment of the discovery that forms the basis of the invention must be clearly described. This is usually done in the examples section of the patent application. Similar considerations apply to ideas for inventions in as much as the idea has to be supported in the patent application by work that shows that the idea has a technical rather than merely theoretical basis. Patent Offices exclude mere ideas, discoveries and various other items from patentability.
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