Quick Facts About Patents

Determining what is, and is not, patentable is a complex process. While the below information is a helpful starting point, it is best to consult with an Innovation Manager in our offices in determining if your innovation is patentable.

A utility patent may be obtained in the United States if the subject matter of the invention includes a process, a machine, a product of manufacture, an article, some computer programs, a method, or a composition of matter (i.e., new chemical or biological compound), or any new and useful improvement of any one of these.

Within these categories, some inventions are not patentable, such as abstract
ideas, theories, laws of nature, products of nature, and scientific principles.

In addition to including patentable subject matter, the invention must be adequately described and be:

  • New
  • Useful, and
  • Non-obvious


New means the invention was not publicly disclosed before the filing date of a patent application on the invention. This means that the invention cannot have been: (a) patented, (b) described in a patent or patent application filed by another person(s), (c) described in a printed publication, (d) in public use, (e) on sale or offered for sale, or (f) otherwise available to the public (ex. oral presentation or non-confidential discussion).

In the United States only, an inventor may obtain a patent, even though the
invention was not ‘new’ under this standard, if that public disclosure was made by
or derived from the inventor and the inventor files a patent application within one
year from the date of. that public disclosure.

Useful means that the invention must have a real-world utility, a practical aspect.

Non-obvious is a legal determination. A simplified interpretation is: at the time of the invention, given the knowledge of scientists in the relevant field,, it would not have been predictable that a person having ordinary skill in the technology would make or conceive the invention. A patent examiner will look to prior publications to’determine if a combination of references would arrive at the invention seeking the grant of a patent.

This is a very simplistic way of describing the non-obviousness standard. Please consult with an Innovation Manager in our offices in determining if your innovation is patentable.


  • Public disclosure or offer for sale — the date when you first presented, published, or otherwise made available to the public (including a non-confidential discussion) a description of your invention that would allow another of ordinary skill to reproduce your invention, or the date when the invention was offered for sale. Please contact CoMotion before making a public disclosure.
  • Conception date — the date that you knew your invention would solve the problem.