What Does a Patent Protect You Against?

Patent Protections

A patent is a right granted by the U.S. Patent Office that designates you as the owner of any invention you create. It protects you against someone else using, making, selling, or importing it without your consent. It nevertheless gives you the right to license or sell it or the rights to it.

What Inventions Can Be Patented?

Not all inventions can be patented, however. The U.S. Patent Office itself specifies that patents are only available to someone who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.” In general, this means that your invention must meet the following requirements in order for you to obtain a patent on it:

  • Its subject matter must be patentable.
  • It must be a novel invention.
  • It must have some usefulness or utility.
  • It must not be obvious.

Subject Matter

You cannot patent an idea. Instead, your idea generally must be in one of the following forms:

  • A new process or method.
  • A new machine that has moving parts or circuitry.
  • A new manufactured article that accomplishes its intended results with few, if any, moving parts.
  • A new combination of components or ingredients, such as those contained in a new pharmaceutical.
  • A new plant variety or one you asexually reproduced.


Novelty means that your invention must differ from any invention previously patented, made available to the public, or the knowledge of and for which is already in the public domain.


Your invention must actually do something unless you’re applying for a design patent. For all practical purposes, the only way your non design invention can fail the utility requirement is under one of the following circumstances:

  • The logic underlying your invention is seriously flawed.
  • Your invention is illegal.
  • Your invention is inherently dangerous.


Non-obviousness means that people in the field where your invention will be used must not consider it obvious. This admittedly circular reasoning can be restated as requiring your invention to contain one or more inventive steps beyond those contained in any currently available product or one commonly known about in your invention’s field.

International Protection

Keep in mind that even if you obtain a patent for your invention from the U.S. Patent Office, this patent only protects your ownership rights in the United States and its territories. Unfortunately, if you wish to have worldwide patent protection, you must apply for a patent in each country in which you desire protection. Sometimes, however, you can apply at a regional patent office for protection in several countries at once. If you would like to learn more from a patent lawyer in Bergen County, NJ then a firm like Kaplan Law Practice, LLC can be of assistance to you.