REQUIREMENTS FOR A PATENTABLE
As mentioned in“What
Is A Patent”, a development must be novel, useful and non-obvious to
persons skilled or knowledgeable in the applicable technology or art.
To comply with the requirement that the development be novel, the invention
must not have been known or used by others in the U.S. or patented or described
in a printed publication anywhere in the World prior to the inventor/applicant’s
date of invention. In addition, in order to avoid the one year
“statutory bar,” the patent application must be filed within one year of
the (i) first public use of the invention, (ii) the first sale or offer
of sale of the invention in the U.S. or (iii) or the first published description
of the invention anywhere in the world. Note that publication can
be the passing out of copies of a presentation (or copies of the overhead
slides used in this presentation) to a gathering of a substantial number
of people familiar with the subject matter or technology of the invention,
e.g. such as an industry trade group. What is important is that in
certain cases, the publication baring patentability or starting the one
year statutory bar, need only involve a small number of people. Similarly,
actions that constitute a first public use or offer of sale can also events
that may seem otherwise inconsequential to the non patent professional.
The non-obvious requirement is often stated that the development must
not be anticipated by the existing technology. If an airplane comprising
a wooden framework covered with cloth is already known, merely substituting
an alternate type of wood will not constitute a patentable invention.
Further a substitution of other materials may not constitute a patentable
invention if the results achieved do not differ from the results that would
be predicted by a person skilled in this technology.
The useful or “utility” requirement is met by showing that the invention
has a functional purpose and is not merely ornamental. The use or
utility requirement may be met by showing that the invention is humorous.
Note that this area of patent law is much more complex than this very
brief summary may indicate. Consultation with a patent professional
is highly recommended.