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We stated in our immediately preceding blog entry that not every invention sought to be patented is in fact patentable. As we noted in our January 20 post, "there are a number of specified requirements that must be satisfied" prior to patent rights being conferred by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

An online primer on patentability describes in detail what those requirements are. It mentions first of all that an invention must be eligible for protection. Generally speaking, most inventions are; as stated in the cited overview, being rigidly exclusionary regarding patent eligibility "cuts innovation off at the knees."

A patent must also be useful. Although the primer cites a "low utility hurdle" for this prerequisite requirement, an inventor can still be denied for failing to make an invention's utility sufficiently clear in an application. A proven patent attorney can render invaluable assistance geared toward establishing the utility of an invention seeking patent protection.

The same is true regarding the "newness" prong that must additionally be satisfied. A sought-for patent must contain something that is truly novel and that does not infringe an already protected invention. Concepts such as "anticipation" and "prior art" are important in this determination, and an experienced attorney's careful research and drafting skills can be of critical importance to the outcome of an application.

Eligibility, utility and newness are not the only requirements. Additionally, an invention must not be obvious. Put another way, it must not be readily apparent to a person with skill in the patent's subject matter. This is another determination that can be influenced by careful input from a lawyer experienced in helping clients file patent applications.

Finally, and provided that an applicant can clear all the above hurdles, his or her invention must also be described with sufficient particularity to be understood and used by other parties.

As is clear, the patent process is technical and complex. Persons with questions regarding it can obtain prompt answers and knowledgeable guidance from an experienced intellectual property attorney.

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