The system for granting patents is designed to encourage inventions that are unique and useful to society.  We often think of them as products, ranging from everyday items like a frying pan to more complicated products like nanotechnology microchips or a chemical compound. However, an invention can also be a process, like the process for actually making the chemical compound. Many products in fact contain a number of inventions. For example, a laptop computer can involve hundreds of inventions, all working together.

Do you have an idea or invention and wonder if it’s eligible for a patent? If so, the laws state it must be ‘useful, novel, non-obviousness and cover patentable subject matter’. What does all that mean exactly?


For an invention to be ‘useful’, it must have some beneficial use and must be operable. A machine that will not operate to perform its intended purpose would not be called useful, and therefore would not be granted a patent.


An invention is ‘novel’ if it is different from other similar inventions in one or more of its parts. It also must not have been publicly used, sold, or patented by another inventor within a year of the date the patent application was filed.


An invention is ‘non-obvious’ if it would not be obvious to a person of ordinary skill in the art of the field of the invention at the time of invention.  Obviousness is very complicated, but some ways of recognizing non-obviousness are if the operation of an invention is unexpected or if the invention produces a surprising result.

What can’t you patent?

Patents are only issued for inventions, ornamental designs of goods, or plants, not names. If you are looking to patent a name, a trademark is your best solution for protection.

Naturally occurring substances and laws of nature, even if they are newly discovered, cannot be patented. Abstract principles, fundamental truths, calculation methods, and mathematical formulas also are not patentable. However, a process that uses such a formula or method can be patented.

A patent cannot be obtained for a mere idea or suggestion. The inventor must have figured out the concrete means of implementing his/her ideas in order to get a patent.

A patent also will not be granted for an invention with no legal purpose or for an unsafe drug.

Complicated nuances exist for all of these requirements, and a skilled attorney is generally required to determine if an invention meets these requirements.

Sherinian Law Attorneys

Experienced Patent Attorneys

Chicago's Best Patent Attorneys
Chicago’s Best Patent Attorneys

Patent Law is Complicated. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian have extensive experience in patent matters. We’ve helped clients obtain numerous patents, including more difficult categories such as software, electronics, and the mechanical arts. We have obtained numerous patents in the United States and throughout the world. In addition, we have litigated patent cases on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants in District Courts throughout the United States.

Contact Us Today

Whether you are at the initial starting stage, or trying to protect and enforce what you’ve already have, we can help patent and protect your idea or invention. Reach out to us today. We will quickly set up a time when you can speak to an experienced patent attorney.