Whenever there is a new idea there should be a review to determine how any resulting product could be protected. For a patent application, the idea has to meet the requirements of an invention. It must be useful, new and non-obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the art. It must belong to one of the categories: process, machine, manufacture or composition of matter. It can also be an improvement of one of those four subjects.
The best way to ensure the regular review of new ideas and innovations is to describe them in an invention disclosure and submit them for review. An invention disclosure is a confidential document written by a scientist or engineer for use by a company’s patent department, or by an external patent attorney, to determine whether patent protection should be sought for the described invention.
A good disclosure will include:
- Name and address of each inventor
- Brief description (abstract)
- Detailed description and key data (provide a description of each element of the embodiment (version) of the invention described in the broadest (least limited) claim and how those elements interact. Describe how it is made, what it does, how it is used, etc. It should be clear from the description that the invention is new and different from any other known product, process or composition. Drawings should be included to describe the invention.
- Date and signature
A patentability search is a detailed, world-wide search of both patent and non-patent literature to determine whether the invention is in fact novel and non-obvious from any other existing product or process. A structured search method is required and this search is performed by a professional familiar with various databases and search tools.
Once the closest art is identified, a comparative analysis of the invention and the art will be used to determine whether the invention is patentable.
A secondary consideration in deciding whether to submit a patent application is the value and market for the final product that results from the innovation.
One should keep in mind that innovation that is not patentable may still have significant market value, and a patentable innovation may have little or no market value. Since goal of a patent is to protect a product sold on a particular market, commercial value should always be considered in making patenting decisions.