Don’t forget all the parts

Cat_tubA post from student blogger Nicole

There are three important things when dealing with an invention for a patent.  The invention must be nonobvious, novel, and useful.  Before this program I actually thought the only thing you needed to get a patent was a new invention.  Unfortunately I was wrong.  The invention has to be nonobvious, useful, and fit into a statutory category as well.  But what is this nonobvious thing I’m talking about?  How can something be nonobvious?  Well you see, when you have an invention you have to research it to make sure it’s not out there already.  So when you come across two things that when put together create your invention, that means your invention is obvious.  But you were so excited to create this invention! It was so unique in your mind and if it was so obvious then why wasn’t it already invented!   Yeah it doesn’t really make sense.  The world of patent law is an enigma.  But don’t give up too soon because there are patent agents or lawyers out there that will put their blood, sweat, and tears into your invention to find some part of it that can be patented.  Another example of obviousness would be if an existing invention is made with a new material, it would be considered novel but it would also be considered obvious.

Now that you’ve figured out your invention is new and nonobvious, let’s move on to whether or not it’s useful.  It has to be able to function.  So nothing that violates laws of physics is allowed or anything straight up crazy like that Godly powers patent I talked about back in September.  Once you figured out it’s useful you have to determine if it fits into one of the five categories: process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement.  A process is a series of operations and is as simple as it sounds, like the process of bathing your cat without injury.  A machine is a device consisting of a series of fixed or moving parts and could be something like a machine that turns pages of a book for you.  An article of manufacture is a simple invention with few or no moving parts and could be something as simple as a pencil.  A composition of matter is a unique arrangement of items like glue and plastics.  A new and useful improvement would be something like a method of converting a video game controller into a laser pointer.  I think I’d like to get my hands on one of those game controllers.  Well now that everyone has their facts straight, no one should forget all the important things that go into getting a patent.

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