Can You Patent an Idea? – Inventor FAQ – Ask an Attorney – Legal Questions


In this video Vin LoTempio teaches that “Ideas are not patentable things are.”

In order to have patentable subject matter you need to be able to describe how to make and use a specific machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter or method of use.

Simply said “the idea itself isn’t patentable.” If you can’t describe how to make and use it to somebody who is skilled in the art you can’t get the patent. Ideas are not patentable things are.

So when somebody comes into my office and says I want to patent my idea, I think to myself “I wonder if they actually have something that we can get a patent for or if it’s just in the idea stage.”

A patent specification describes how to make and use the invention.

First example: If you were the caveman who was sick an tired of eating off the ground and invented the table it would be simply described as “a table having a square table top and bottom with four corners having legs attached to the bottom at the corners.” The idea to elevate a surface area off the ground would not be patentable without a description of how to do it.

Another example: (not a real idea from an inventor) the inventor’s idea is to have the car brakes work by pulling a lever. The idea of pulling a lever is not going to get the patent, but describing how to make the structure of the lever and how it interacts with the brakes will get the patent. Not the idea of using a lever.

Another example: If you have an idea for a new app you need to be able to specifically describe each step to accomplish the end result. So if an inventor has an end result of what they want to accomplish we try to look at what series of steps would be necessary to get to that result.

So bottom line is somehow someway you have to figure out how to describe how to make the product. Which doesn’t mean that you actually have to make the product but just describe how to make and use it.

Ask the Patent Lawyer any question you want on the Patent Home Youtube page.

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