Utility Patent Protection

What qualifies for utility patent protection?

  • Section 101 of Title 35 of the United States Code states that “any new and useful process, machine, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof” can be the subject of a patent. This can include new devices, new methods or processes, improvements in existing devices or methods, methods of doing business, software, new uses of existing technology, Internet methods of doing business, recipes, formulas and systems.
  • Section 100 of Title 35 of the United States Code defines the word “process” as meaning a process (leave it to Congress to define “a process” as “a process”), art or method, and includes a new use for a known invention.
  • Things which do not qualify for patent protection include: scientific principles, mathematical processes, mental steps, printed matter, naturally occurring articles, mere aggregations of unrelated parts (a pencil with an eraser at one end is considered such an aggregation), and “any invention or discovery which is useful solely in the utilization of special nuclear material or atomic energy in an atomic weapon.” (42 USC ยง 2181(a)).

An inventor can file for a provisional patent or a nonprovisional utility patent to protect his or her idea.