Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

In the realm of invention and innovation, the path to securing a patent is guided by four critical pillars: novelty, non-obviousness, utility, and eligible subject matter. These pillars form the foundation of what makes an invention patentable. They serve as benchmarks to evaluate whether an idea not only sparks interest but also meets the stringent criteria for patent protection. Each pillar contributes to delineating a patentable invention from a mere concept.

Pillar One: Novelty

Novelty is a cornerstone in determining an invention’s patentability. An invention is considered novel if it hasn’t been previously known or used by others in the same field. This means that for an invention to be patentable, it must bring something new to the table, something that hasn’t been disclosed in public before. The novelty criterion ensures that patents are granted only for genuinely innovative ideas, not for mere modifications or reiterations of existing products or processes. It’s not just about being different; it’s about being the first of its kind. This is where a thorough search and comparison with existing inventions becomes critical, ensuring that your creation is indeed a fresh contribution to its field.

Pillar Two: Non-Obviousness

Non-obviousness is a critical criterion for patentability, adding a layer of complexity beyond mere novelty. This principle demands that an invention should not be apparent to a person skilled in the relevant field. Essentially, if an invention is a straightforward or predictable advancement from existing knowledge, it may not meet this standard. This requirement ensures that patents are awarded for truly innovative and unexpected developments, rather than for simple improvements or modifications that any expert could deduce. Determining non-obviousness involves a careful evaluation of the invention in light of the current state of the art, considering whether it represents a significant and not readily foreseeable leap in thinking or application.

Pillar Three: Utility

Utility forms the third pillar of patentability, emphasizing the practical aspect of an invention. For an invention to be patentable, it must possess a specific, substantial, and credible utility. This means the invention should have a clear and definite purpose, and it must be capable of performing its intended function. The utility criterion prevents the patenting of fanciful or theoretical ideas that don’t have a real-world application. It’s not just about inventing something new or non-obvious; the invention must also be useful and functional. Whether it’s a new technology, a machine, or a chemical composition, its practical applicability in its field is a key determinant of its eligibility for patent protection.

Pillar Four: Eligible Subject Matter

Eligible subject matter is the fourth pillar of patentability, defining the scope of what can be patented. This pillar sets boundaries to ensure that patents are granted only for types of inventions recognized by law. Generally, eligible subject matter includes processes, machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter. However, it excludes abstract ideas, natural phenomena, and laws of nature. For instance, mathematical formulas, naturally occurring substances, or purely theoretical concepts without practical application do not qualify. This criterion ensures that patents promote innovation without monopolizing fundamental scientific principles. Understanding what falls within this eligible spectrum is crucial, as it helps inventors and legal professionals ascertain whether their invention can be legally protected under patent law.

Bold Patents Can Help You Determine the Patentability of Your Invention

At Bold Patents, we’re dedicated to guiding you through the complexities of patent law. Our team of experienced attorneys is here to evaluate your invention against these critical pillars, ensuring the best strategy for your patent needs. Contact us for a personalized approach to protect and maximize your innovation’s potential.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at