Can you patent that?

“Patentable?” – this is one of the most common questions we get from new clients. The question is not so much about whether their invention is novel or nonobvious. Many clients are asking whether the subject matter is even eligible for patent protection. I’ll try to tackle some of the broad categories of inventions that are eligible for patenting in the US.

Keep in mind the following general categories of patentable subject matter:

  • process
  • machine
  • article of manufacture
  • composition of matter
  • any new and useful improvement of the above

If you’re seriously considering a US patent, don’t forget that it’s a race to the patent office and you cannot patent any invention that you publicly disclosed more than a year ago.

Can you patent a game?

Yes, it may be possible to patent board games, card games and even other sorts of games. Focus on the game rules and articulate how and why your game is different than existing games.

Is a recipe patentable?

Yes, but it may be challenging to show that a recipe is nonobvious, even if the recipe may be new. Remember that you can’t patent anything you’ve sold or publicly disclosed for more than one year.

Can you patent a mobile app or desktop app?

Yes, see this post on patenting software.

Is a user interface (GUI) patentable?

Yes, UI and UX features are patentable. You can also apply for a design patent to protect the ornamental appearance of graphical user interfaces (GUI), i.e., icons.

Can you patent a different use for an existing product?

Technically, it is possible to patent a new use of an existing product. Realistically, it might not be worth trying because you would have to show that the new use is nonobvious. Even if you believe your use to spectacularly nonobvious, expect an uphill battle. USPTO patent examiners will likely make it difficult for utility patent applications directed to new uses of existing products.

Are improvements to existing products patentable?

Yes. In fact, most patents cover improvements over preexisting inventions.

Can you patent a new process for making an old product?

Yes. It would definitely help to describe in detail any key steps that distinguish your process over prior art manufacturing processes, and tie those steps to any benefits (e.g., reduction in costs or time).

Is your invention patentable?

Email patent attorney Vic Lin or call (949) 223-9623 to discuss to take the next steps to protect your invention. We can discuss whether a utility patent or design patent would be most appropriate, the cost of a patentability search and the process filing the right type of patent application.

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Vic Lin

Startup Patent Attorney | IP Lead Partner at Innovation Capital Law Group
We align ourselves with Davids fighting Goliaths. Our registered patent attorneys work as a team to equip startups and founders with solid IP rights that facilitate funding, growth and sales. Email or call us so we can get to work on your IP: (949) 223-9623 | vlin@icaplaw.com