U.S. patent law specifies that any person who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter, may obtain a patent. In general, anything made by mankind and the process for making it may be patented provided it meets the following tests.
- Novel: It is new and wasn't known, sold or used by others or printed in a publication more than one year prior to the filing. However, this one year grace period does not exist internationally.
- Useful: It must operate for its intended purpose and become a benefit to society.
- Non-Obvious: It must be sufficiently different from what has been known to others in the field.
The government issues a patent to the inventor through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. What is granted is the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale or importing the invention without first obtaining a license from the patent holder.
- Chemical Formulations
- Purified and Isolated Chemicals
- Genetically Altered Life Forms
- Some Business Methods
- Arrangement of Printed Matter (ex. books)
- Natural Occuring Article (ex. wild plant)
- Scientific Principle
- Perpetual Motion Machines
- Promotional Advertising Schemes
- Ideas (However, the application of ideas is patentable.)