7 Things That Can't Be Patented in the United States

A patent is the grant of a property right to an individual or establishment. It excludes others from using, making, offering for sale, or selling the product in the United States, and importing it into the country. Patents generally last for twenty years, with mandatory maintenance fees at specific intervals. If you’re considering applying for a patent, it’s essential to find out tips and information on licensable patents and consult experienced patent attorneys.

Types of Patents

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), there are three basic types of patents.

Utility Patents: They’re granted to anyone who discovers or invents any new and useful machine, process, article of manufacture, or any useful and new improvement of such.

Design Patents: This patent is granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.

Plant Patents: anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

Necessary Elements for Acceptable Patents

For an invention to be patentable, it should be established as new. This statement means that it must not be described in a printed publication. Also, it shouldn’t be in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date. Hence, there must have been no disclosure of the said invention, such as a presentation at a scientific meeting, a speech or lecture, a trade show demonstration, a radio statement, a YouTube video, or other online material.

Rules to Follow

An invention is unpatentable if it has no sufficient difference compared to existing inventions, products, or designs. The request will be refused if you can’t prove uniqueness and non-obviousness to individuals with the necessary skills in the patent field. Such differences include changes in size and substitution of one color for another.

You must demonstrate an aesthetic or functional utility, depending on whether you’re applying for a design or a utility patent. Provide a comprehensive explanation of the design or invention, with details and specific examples.

Things That Can’t Be Patented

People generally believe that anything can be patented but aren’t aware that there are limitations. Some things can’t be patented for specific reasons like the ability to execute them or questions of morality. They are discussed below.

1. Software and Business Methods

Innovations that only constitutes a computer program or a rule or method for carrying out business procedures can’t be patented. That’s because they aren’t technical. Such business methods include advertising, risk assessment, online services, and computer-based share trading. Nevertheless, if the invention were to be technical and includes a business method, or is operated by a computer program, it can be patented.

2. Biotechnological Products

Biotechnology benefits the medical, agricultural, and food industries. Therefore, there’s a possibility of obtaining patents on genetically modified products. Still, human cloning methods are deemed unethical and, as a result, can’t be patented. Other non-patentable biotechnological inventions are discovered parts of organisms and plant varieties and animal breeds, which are new species.

3. Medical Methods

Products and devices for practicing medical methods can be patented. However, the methods themselves can’t. According to law, a patent must not prevent medical practitioners from curing and preventing illnesses. Also, because of genetics and other individual peculiarities, the methods could have different effects on different patients. They are, therefore, not reproducible and can’t be patented.

4. Ideas

Patents can’t be obtained on mere ideas or suggestions. Even though there need not be a working prototype, something tangible like a description of a machine is required. Before a patent can be issued, there must be something that demonstrates the usefulness and functionality of that idea. Being specific, like providing diagrams, may provide better chances of getting a patent.

5. Laws of Nature

The courts’ interpretation of the law has defined limits to the field of subject matter that can be patented. It, therefore, holds that laws of nature and physical phenomena can’t be patented. They include routine, regular activities, even though not previously well-understood. An example is the law of gravity, as proposed by Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein’s general relativity theory. Similar to that is the fact that naturally occurring substances can also not be patented.

6. Mathematical Equations and Formulas

Mathematical formulas and equations perform lots of functions and provide numerous explanations. Regardless, a mathematical equation or formula can’t be patented, even if you discovered it. That’s because they appear to be abstract ideas and not inventions. However, if the equation presents an applicable concept that meets the general patent requirements, then it can be obtained. According to law, only “hard math” is patentable.

7. An Unexpected Patent

Several people ask about the patenting of recipes, and according to law, they have at least three components of a patentable innovation. Hence, if they meet the qualifications, they can be patented. For example, there’s a rave of the ketogenic diet these days, but it’s tasking for busy people always to prepare their meals. If a company produces a pre-packed meal containing ingredients in adequate quantities to be unique, it could be patented. An added advantage will be if this product helps to improve physical performance.

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