Criteria for Patentability

What are the different criteria for getting the patent application granted?

Every country has its own criteria for granting a patent as per the defined laws. However, there are some criteria which are commonly followed by every country for granting a patent. The most important criteria or requirements are discussed below. 

Novelty/Inventive Step:

Novelty is a fundamental requirement and an undisputed condition of patentability. An invention will not be novel if it has been disclosed to the public through any type of publication anywhere in the world. In order for an invention to be patentable, it must be new as defined in the patent law. This novelty requirement states that an invention cannot be patented if certain public disclosure of the invention has been made. The invention must not be known in any prior art throughout the world and must be different from all previous inventions. Consider an example of a tire manufacturer who has long known the formula for making tire rubber. An inventor invented a technique of increasing the lifetime of the tire rubber by changing the chemical composition can file his invention for patent protection. Another suitable example can be related to the process of manufacturing electronic components known in the art used by various manufacturers. The present technology and methods employed for the manufacturing of electronic components contain some drawbacks such as the wastage of power due to heat. Suppose another inventor comes up with a new and improved manufacturing process for casting out electronic components with a prime aim of reducing the amount of power wasted due to heat. This could also be a patentable invention if it hasn’t been done already by anyone in the whole world.

Non-Obviousness:

Non-Obviousness means that a particular idea should not be obvious to any other person in the same field. If an invention is not exactly the same as prior products or processes (which are referred to as the “prior art”), then it is considered novel. However, in order for an invention to be patentable, it must not only be novel, but it must also possess a non-obvious improvement over the prior art. For example, a person invented a table about 50 years ago and the table has a square top, a bottom and four legs (just like an ordinary table used nowadays by many). Another person who is employed in making new tables comes up with a new design for a table. The inventor presents it as an improvement to the table made previously as discussed above and tries to get it patented. The improvement is that the top of the table is circular in shape instead of a square. However, the patent office may argue that someone skilled in the art (a carpenter) would think this improvement is obvious as the top could be made in any shape or dimension. Therefore, resulting in a non-obviousness rejection of the round top table even though the improvement of the first ever circular top is new and useful but it would not be patentable.

Now a new inventor invents a table with pedestal legs connected to the center of the bottom. This way of connecting the legs to the top of the table will arguably be considered as a non-obvious improvement and would be potentially patentable in the pre-historic patent office. In this case, obviousness can be established by combining or modifying the teachings of the prior art to produce the claimed invention where there is some teaching, suggestion, or motivation to do so. Now if a chair existed in the prior art with similar legs like the pedestal legs of the inverted table, then the examiner might combine the references of the square table with the chair and say it was obvious to come up with the new table.

Useful:

The third important criterion for a patent to be granted is the usefulness of the invention. An invention is “useful” if it provides some identifiable benefit and is capable of use. The invention must work and provide some sort of a purpose. For example, a new drug cannot be patented if it has no effects or a new machine cannot be patented if it doesn’t serve its purpose. The invention should provide some practical benefit or help people complete the real world tasks. An example of a useful idea or an invention can be an apparatus or a chamber for partitioning the solid particles from the liquid content.

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