Intellectual property rights include copyrights, trademarks and patents. Each applies to a certain type of original work. The classes of subject matter that fall under patent law are:

  • Process: A process, act or method, including industrial or technical schemes
  • Machines
  • Manufacture: Any manufactured articles
  • Composition of matter: Chemical compositions and mixtures of ingredients and new chemical compounds

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The Patent statute awards patents to any person who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.”

The keyword in the statute is “useful.” If a machine does not work properly, the patent office will not grant a patent on the machine. Patent law becomes complex and tough to navigate because of the vagueness of the statute. Who defines “useful?” What exactly constitutes an “improvement” on an existing “process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter?”

It’s important to note that patents are not awarded for ideas or suggestions. The patent goes to the actual machine, manufacture, process or composition of matter—not the idea of the subject. When applying for a patent on the subject matter, a complete description is required.

The laws that regulate patents can be found in the US Code (35 USC). The rules outlining changes to patent law and other matters relating to patent laws are located in the Code of Federal Regulations (37 CFR).  These laws and rules should be read prior to filing a patent application. Individuals who feel overwhelmed by the complexities of patent law patent law should contact an attorney to help with filing the Patent Application, or at the least, consult with an attorney before independently filing for a patent. The patent application process can be time consuming and an attorney can help usher the application through properly.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office also offers a resource of links to other documents regarding patent laws and rules:

  • Basic laws and regulations
  • Manual of Patent Examining Procedure definition – MPEP
  • Notices: Recent Patent-Related - pre-OG, OG & Federal Register
  • Proposed Rule Changes to Focus the Patent Process in the 21st Century
  • Timely and Useful Information Disclosure Statements (IDSs)
  • Accelerated Review Option
  • New Rules on Claims and Continuations
  • Revised Amendment Practice
  • American Inventor's Protection Act of 1999 (AIPA)
  • International Protection
  • Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)
  • Global/International Intellectual Property

Get started Create Your Provisional Patent Application Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.

Get started Create Your Provisional Patent Application Answer a few questions. We'll take care of the rest.