Are methods of treating humans patentable in the US?

Yes, a medical method of treatment is patentable in the US. Of course, methods of treating human health issues must meet all conditions of patentability. Patenting a method of medical treatment would still involve hurdles of obviousness and lack of novelty. So it is possible to patent a way of treating human diseases and ailments, but you can expect a long road full of rejections by the US patent examiner.

What can a make a method of treatment not patentable?

Claims in a US patent filing may include diagnostic steps, but something more is required. When claims recite only diagnostic steps without including steps for treatment, then such claims are ineligible for patent protection.

To be patentable in the US, therefore, make sure the claims recite a specific step of treating a human. Avoid claims that recite taking diagnostic steps and merely comparing results without doing more.

Is a new use of a known drug patentable?

It is possible to patent a new use of a known composition. Such new use patents must recite method claims, and not composition claims. The challenge would be proving to the patent that such new use claims are not obvious.

Is new method of using a known device patentable?

Similarly, it may be possible to patent a new use of a medical device. However, the difficulty will lie in overcoming the expected obviousness rejections. In other words, why would it not be obvious to use such a medical device in this new manner as claimed?

Can you patent an unknown composition or formula?

Maybe. Sometimes we receive questions on the possibility of patenting a composition that has already been used. In these situations, the prior activities may bar the inventor from patenting a composition if it has been used for quite some time. This may be the case even if the ingredients are unknown. Perhaps, the inventor may have a protectable trade secret if certain confidentiality requirements have been met. Patent protection, however, for used yet unknown formulas would generally not be patentable.

If the prior use by the inventor has been less than a year, then the invention might still be eligible for patent protection. Furthermore, it may be possible to file a patent application for a new modified composition that has not yet been used or sold. Such a new composition, however, should be nonobvious in view of the previously used compositions.

Need to patent a method of treating humans?

Contact US patent attorney Vic Lin by email at or call (949) 223-9623 to see how we can help you patent a medical method of treatment.

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Vic Lin

Startup Patent Attorney, Cofounder at Innovation Capital Law Group
We align ourselves with Davids fighting Goliaths. Our registered patent attorneys help innovators get IP that drives funding, growth and sales. Email or call us so we can get to work on your IP: (949) 223-9623 |