What can I patent?

The United States Patent Laws provide that any person who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent, subject to the conditions and requirements of the law.


An invention is not new if the inventor or someone else revealed or made a public disclosure of the invention for more than 12 months. The United States patent laws provide that an invention is not new if (1) it was known or used by others in the United States, (2) it was patented or described in a printed publication in the United States or a foreign country, before the current applicant filed for his or her patent, (3) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, or (4) the invention was in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the application for patent in the United States. An invention is useful if it has a useful purpose and can perform its intended purpose. Laws of nature, physical phenomena and natural phenomena are not patentable.


A process can include an act or a method and typically includes industrial or technical processes. For example, the process for making a drug would be patentable. Another example would be how a computer software performs a certain process is a specified way.


The United States patent law provides that “a machine can be a concrete thing, consisting of parts, or of certain devices and combination of devices. This includes every mechanical device or combination of mechanical powers and devices to perform some function and produce a certain effect or result.” Obviously, this would include household devices, small handheld devices, etc.


Manufacture refers to an article produced from raw or prepared materials by giving to these materials new forms, qualities, properties, or combinations, whether by hand labor or by machinery.


Composition of matter are all compositions of two or more substances and all composite articles, whether they be the results of chemical union, or of mechanical mixture, or whether they be gases, fluids, powders or solids, for example. Composition of matter relates to chemical compositions and may include mixtures of ingredients as well as new chemical compounds.