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Overview of Requirements

The U.S. Patent Office will deny your patent application unless the following requirements are met.

Requirement: Allowed Subject Matter

Rule 1: Your idea cannot be patented if it's a hypothetical or a law of nature.

Example: Dr. C. Nile reads a medical article suggesting localized areas of the brain controlling stuttering. The doctor then theorizes that short electric pulses to those regions of the brain will diminish stuttering. Without disclosing the technique and predictable results of administering the pulses, the doctor's theory cannot be patented.

Rule 2: Your invention is a


You may combine several invention types in one patent application, e.g. the composition of a new pigment and the method of making it.

Methods describe the sequential steps taken to achieve a result.

Products (aka articles of manufacture) are simply devices.

Machines (aka systems or apparatuses) are complex systems with interacting parts.

Compositions of Matter are solids, gases, or liquids not found in nature. They may be for a new molecule, compound, alloy, solution, mixture, and even living matter!

Improvements on any of the above.

Requirement: New

Your invention is new if it has never been described in the prior art.

Prior art includes:

The USPTO examiners will search prior art and compare it with your invention. It is a good idea to do your own prior art search before hiring a patent practitioner, since your application will be rejected if the prior art is found by the examiner.

Requirement: Useful

Useful inventions

Requirement: Non-obvious


Some inventions rejected as obvious varied from prior art solely by material or size.

Patents are granted to protect inventions which a person with ordinary skill in the field of art could not obviously deduce from prior art. Otherwise, patents would issue for trivial inventions.

A person with ordinary skill falls somewhere between the master inventive genius and the entry level technician. What defines ordinary skill depends on the context, with some factors being the type of problems encountered in the field, complexity of the technology, and the education level of actors in the field.

Requirement: Full Disclosure

To obtain a patent, the inventor must provide a full disclosure of preferred embodiments.

Preferred embodiments are real world examples that teach the public how the invention can be practiced. Patent drawings visually depict preferred embodiments. In addition to drawings, the inventor must describe the preferred embodiments with full, clear, concise and exact words that meet three requirements:

Written description requirement: Every step or component of the claimed invention must be described so that one with ordinary skill in the relevant art can practice the invention.

Enablement requirement: The manner and process of making and using the invention. This allows one with ordinary skill in the art to practice the claimed invention without undue experimentation.

Best mode requirement: The best manner known by the inventor of practicing the invention.

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