Requirements for a patent
To be eligible for grant of a patent (i.e. patentable), an innovation must meet the following 4 requirements:
- The innovation must be a patentable subject.
New products, such as tools, toys, medical devices, and pharmaceutical drugs are patentable.
New manufacturing processes are also patentable.
Software-related inventions may be patentable.
In contrast, artistic creations, mathematical models, theories, methods for medical treatment or diagnosis, and abstract intellectual or mental concepts or processes are not patentable.
- The innovation must be new. This is called “novelty”.
A patent cannot be granted in relation to something that is already publicly known. In that case it is not really an innovation at all. It would be unfair for the economic benefits conferred by a patent to be realised in relation to something that is already publicly known.
For example, where the innovation is a product which has already been sold, or a process that has already been used, this prior use/disclosure will disqualify the innovation from being patentable.
It is therefore critical to ensure that there is no disclosure of an innovation before making a patent application therefor, or alternatively, any prior disclosure of an innovation should be protected by a confidentiality agreement, so as to preserve the novelty of the innovation.
The “newness” (novelty) of an innovation is assessed as at the date that you file your application for the patent or a priority filing date lawfully claimed in your application.
- The innovation must be inventive.
This means that the innovation must not be obvious to a person skilled in the art.
- The innovation must be useful to the extent that it is capable of industrial application. This is called “utility”.
“Usefulness” here does not relate to whether or not the marketplace would find the innovation useful. Rather it refers to whether the innovation can be made or used in any kind of industry including agriculture, in accordance with the claims that are made in the patent.