8 Types of Patents
Is my idea patentable?
A lot of new inventors are doubtful that their idea is eligible for a patent. They shouldn’t. Even the most unlikely of ideas pass through the patent office every day.
For example, Patent Number 5443036: Method of Exercising a Cat
This inventor patented, “A method for inducing cats to exercise consists of directing a beam of invisible light produced by a hand-held laser apparatus onto the floor or wall or other opaque surface in the vicinity of the cat, then moving the laser so as to cause the bright pattern of light to move in an irregular way fascinating to cats, and to any other animal with a chase instinct.”
Basically, he patented pointing a laser beam at a wall for the amusement of his cat. Valid, groundbreaking and so much. Patentable nonetheless.
So what makes the difference? What kinds of ideas can be patented? And what can’t?
Today, you’ll learn the difference.
Patents – “Anything under the sun made by the hand of man…”
The general rule of patents is that they must be created by man. That’s a pretty broad statement, so let’s take a look at a short list with explanations.
1. Mechanical devices and articles of manufacture – The dictionary defines a mechanical device as “a mechanism consisting of a device that works on mechanical principles”. Pretty creative, huh? Anyways, if you can make a machine that is new and useful, you can patent it.
2. Processes – A process is simply a way of doing things. If you can make a better process for doing something, you have a good candidate for a patent.
3. Chemical compositions – Many new drugs fall under this category. Arranging chemicals to solve problems and then patenting them is a multi-billion dollar industry.
4. Computer programs – practically cornered the market when it patented the 1-Click ordering system. Since it owns the patent, no other website can use their proprietary system without paying a royalty and obtaining permission first.
5. Genetic organisms – This is a neat one and still up for debate in this new era of uncoding DNA.
6. Improvements – Do you have to have a brand new idea to get a patent? If not, do not despair. The vast majority of patents are for existing ideas that are improved.
7. Designs (Design Patent – surface ornamentation) – Keeping with the improvement theme, you don’t actually have to make something better to get a patent. You just have to make it look different.
8. Asexually reproduced plants (Plant Patent) – For the botanist/inventor in you.
That’s about it. That seems like it covers everything, but there are a few exceptions. For example you can’t patent:
— Laws of nature (E=MC2)
— Physical phenomena (gravity)
— Abstract ideas
— Inventions which are not useful or not operable (such as perpetual motion machines)
And of course if someone else owns your idea already, you can’t patent it (that’s why it’s always a good idea to do a patent search before undertaking the journey to get a patent).