The Basics of Patent Law

Patents are a form of intellectual property that allows inventors to prevent others from using their inventions without permission. They can be obtained for products or processes that solve a technical problem in a new and non-obvious way.


For an invention to be patentable, it must be both novel and non-obvious. It must also be useful.

Patentable subject matter

A patent protects the inventor’s right to prevent others from copying or using their invention without permission. However, some ideas cannot be patented because they fall under certain categories, such as abstract ideas, perpetual motion devices, laws of nature, or naturally occurring substances. If you’re not sure whether your invention qualifies, consult a lawyer to get the best advice.

A patent examiner will reject your invention if it isn’t considered to be eligible for patent protection. To determine whether an invention meets these requirements, the USPTO applies a series of tests. These include whether the invention is novel, non-obvious, and useful. To be patentable, an invention must also be technically advanced in light of the prior art. The USPTO will also evaluate whether the invention is new and non-obvious to a person skilled in the field.

In addition to identifying patentable subject matter, the USPTO will also analyze whether a claimed invention is a mental process. For example, a method claim reciting managing personal behavior might involve storing pre-set spending limits in a database and communicating the limitations to the user when they are reached. This is considered a mental process, and it’s not eligible for patent protection.

In addition to determining whether an invention is patentable, the USPTO will consider how many patents are being sought for a particular invention. It will also assess the relationship between inventors and applicants/assignees to ensure that a single patent application isn’t seeking multiple patents on the same invention. This is called statutory double patenting, and it can lead to a significant delay in prosecution.


The claims of a patent describe the scope of protection granted to an invention. They are the defining feature of the patent, and they provide the basis for patent infringement litigation. They also identify the boundaries of what the patent holder has exclusive rights to make, use and sell. There are four statutory categories of patentable subject matter: processes, machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter. Some inventions do not fit into any of these statutory categories. In such cases, a patent application can be filed in specialized claim formats to gain approval from the patent office.

There are many different types of claims in patent law, and they are generally categorized as independent or dependent claims. Independent patent claims are the essential features of an invention, while dependent claims are additional features. These additional features must be necessary for the independent claims to function properly. In addition, there are special claim formats for software inventions.

The claim system in the United States was designed to limit the number of inventions that a patent covers. The goal is to have the patent claim define what the inventor wants to protect and to prevent third parties from exploiting his or her invention without obtaining a license from the patent owner. A patent holder can only sue for infringement when there is an alleged violation of one or more independent claims in the patent. The claims are often compared to the property lines in a deed for land, because they mark the exact extent of the protected technology.

Filing a patent application

Patents are a form of protection granted by a country or region for an invention. This protection, which lasts for 20 years from the date of filing, prevents others from making, using or selling the invention. This is why companies and researchers seek patent protection for their products, namely genes and proteins, laboratory techniques and drugs.

The process of obtaining a patent starts with the filing of an application. This application contains the identifying information of the inventor and describes the invention. It also includes a set of numbered claims that define the scope of the monopoly.

In order to obtain a patent, the application must be examined by a patent examiner. This examination is done to ensure that the claimed invention is new, useful and not obvious over prior art. The examiner may reject the application or issue a notice of allowance. During this period, the inventor must respond to any objections that are raised by the examiner.

The application must be filed in the country in which the inventor wants protection. There are treaties that simplify the process, but it is best to consult with a professional, as each country has different rules and procedures. In addition to the cost of preparing and filing the application, there are fees to prosecute it until it is granted and annual renewal fees.

Patent examination

The patent examination process involves determining whether an invention can be granted as a patent. This requires an extensive knowledge of the relevant technology and evolving court rulings. In addition, it is essential that patent examiners make a decision that is consistent with the ruling a court would make after a thorough review of the case. To achieve this goal, the USPTO has implemented an efficient patent granting process that uses a variety of inputs to ensure that patents are examined in a timely manner and with the highest possible quality.

As a result, patent applications take about 2 1/2 years to be granted as a patent. Applicants may request expedited processing through a variety of means. However, these programs are expensive and have low success rates. In order to successfully navigate the patent application process, it is important that an applicant work with an experienced patent attorney.

A skilled patent attorney can help an inventor develop a strategy to secure a strong patent. The lawyer will consider the state of the art and the inventor’s business objectives to develop a strategy for success. Moreover, the lawyer will prepare detailed citations to relevant prior art and draft strong arguments to overcome the examiner’s rejections. The lawyer will also draft a strong response to any office action issued by the examiner.