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Can Ideas Be Patented or Protected?

Protecting an Idea: Can Ideas Be Patented or Protected?

Protecting an Idea: Can Ideas Be Patented or Protected?Many individuals will ask: can concepts be patented? The brief reply is not any. Sadly, regardless of what you could have heard from late night time tv commercials, there isn’t any efficient option to shield an concept with any type of mental property safety. Copyrights shield expression and creativity, not innovation.  Patents shield innovations. Neither copyrights or patents shield concepts. This isn’t to recommend that concepts usually are not helpful, however they don’t seem to be invaluable in the identical method or sense that popular culture has led many to consider.

It’s, in fact, axiomatic that an concept is a vital first step towards any invention. Nothing can or will occur with out an concept, so in a single sense concepts are a important, and invaluable, piece to the general innovation equation. In and of themselves, nevertheless, concepts will not be monetarily worthwhile. With out some identifiable manifestation of the thought there may be no mental property safety obtained and no unique rights will circulate.

With none safety, whether or not precise (i.e., within the type of an issued patent) or perceived (i.e., within the type of a pending patent software that defines the invention and will if pursued mature into an issued patent), concepts are free. Absent patent safety or a confidentiality settlement that accepts an obligation not use or disclose an concept – that are extraordinarily troublesome if not unattainable to acquire with solely an concept – the thought may be taken and used with out cost.


This doesn’t imply that inventors, or those that aspire to turn into inventors, ought to hand over on the concept stage when the belief is made that there’s solely an concept current with out some identifiable manifestation, however it does imply that extra work is important with a purpose to flesh out the thought and convey it throughout the thought innovation boundary. The objective is to get to the purpose the place the thought it’s concrete sufficient to be greater than what the regulation would name a mere concept.

The ethical of the story is that mere concepts can’t be protected, so inventors have to assume when it comes to an invention.  Innovations could be patented. Ideas can’t be patented. So, you should not have an concept, you’ve an invention, or you’ll have an invention for those who proceed in your journey and don’t hand over. You simply have to get from the concept inevitably begins the method to an invention, which is the end result of the innovation a part of the journey. And as soon as the end result of the innovation journey is realized then it turns into time to file a patent software.

As one contemplates shifting from concept to invention to patent and finally, hopefully riches, a dose of actuality is so as. First, cease considering you’ll get wealthy by promoting your ideato business and sitting again and accumulating royalty checks for doing nothing. That could be what late-night TV commercials need you to consider, however it isn’t actuality. If inventing have been as straightforward as considering up an concept and riches would comply with virtually everybody can be a wealthy inventor! Ideas are a dime a dozen. They’re helpful as a result of they’re a essential a part of the innovation journey, however it isn’t the thought in and of itself that creates financial worth, slightly the precious proposition inventors present these occupied with shopping for or licensing invention rights is discovered within the answer.

Inventors earn a living by figuring out an issue, formulating an concept about how that drawback might be solved, after which creating an answer. For instance, the remark that utilizing a snow shovel to clear snow is a back-breaking endeavor is clear to anybody who has ever shoveled snow. The will or perception that there needs to be a greater option to take away snow from a residential driveway is likewise not revolutionary, or notably beneficial. The concept a mechanized answer would make the method quicker, simpler and trigger fewer muscle accidents is an effective one, however with out the supply of any sort of answer the mere concept that a mechanized answer can be unbelievable doesn’t create any worth. However for those who have been the primary individual truly capable of construct a mechanized answer that might throw (or blow) the snow off a driveway you’d have an invention that could possibly be patented, and one which might be quiet useful within the palms of the best licensee. Maybe royalty checks would roll in, however wouldn’t it be for doing nothing? That mailbox revenue which may present up each quarter for years is attributed to the work accomplished to create a useful answer to the issue. The thought matured into an identifiable manifestation that was beneficial within the palms of one other. An inventor’s dream, however hardly cash for doing nothing, though the inventor’s work is frontloaded on this monetization state of affairs.

Determine 1 from U.S. Patent No. three,921,315

Primarily, what inventors have to do is determine an issue, formulate the thought after which work towards discovering an answer. The above instance of a snow blower is an illustration of a standard creative concept turning into a actuality by figuring out a activity that may be made simpler with a brand new system. The snow blower pictured right here was patented on November 25, 1975 and is titled Snow Blower Security Chute.The development right here is with respect to factor 22, the security chute. The patent explains that regardless of producer warnings individuals injure themselves yearly as a result of once they try to wash out the compacted snow from the discharge chute, they don’t cease the engine. Thus, the inventor’s want was to stop accidents as a result of a sure variety of individuals – maybe many – gained’t comply with security instructions regardless of being warned.

The thought was to create a chute that might be safely cleared whereas the engine was nonetheless operating. The answer was using prongs extending downward right into a portion of the chute, which might be manipulated by the consumer to loosen the packed snow safely whereas the engine was nonetheless operating. The precious proposition is the answer to the issue, not the identification of the issue, which the producers knew about as a result of warnings to not clear the discharge chute with the engine operating have been included.


Many individuals will provide you with concepts, you’ve little question heard many family and friends speak about their invention concepts. I want a software that does X, why hasn’t somebody considered Y, this may be higher if solely it did Z. For most individuals that’s so far as they get, however inventors will go farther, however typically will nonetheless discover themselves getting caught within the concept part. If that occurs don’t simply throw within the towel. Many good many inventors will turn out to be caught within the concept part every so often, so if that’s the place you’re you aren’t alone.

First, it might shock you to study that you simply simply assume you’re caught within the concept part and also you may even have an invention with out even figuring out it but. United States patent legal guidelines don’t require you to have a prototype as a way to apply for a patent, all that’s required is that you simply have the ability to describe the invention in order that others might make and use it. So, when you do have to have some sort of identifiable manifestation, you can begin by proving your idea on paper.

With some steerage to coax out your concept you may even have greater than you assume. For instance, with the assistance of somebody accustomed to CAD and may also help you create detailed 2D drawings and 3D renderings of what you’re serious about, you may quickly understand you will have an invention and never a mere concept. For instance, Improve Product Developmentworks with inventors to assist them flip their innovations into actuality, however additionally they work with those that are on the trail towards turning into inventors and who need assistance on the ideation or idea stage.

Many individuals may have nice concepts, however what separates those that can flip their concepts into cash from those that can’t is a technique to outline the thought with sufficient specificity in order that it may possibly develop into an asset that may finally be protected. To revenue out of your concept it’s essential to package deal it in order that it’s one thing the regulation will acknowledge as protectable.

In case you are having problem shifting out of the thought part and into the invention part check out Shifting From Concept to Patent and Concerning the Invention Course of. These articles will present some insights and enable you to formulate a plan for reaching the invention stage, which is the place you need to be with a view to commercialize and monetize your concepts. The Invent + Patent System™ may also assist. The Invent + Patent System™is an revolutionary strategy to the patent course of that assists inventors in drafting their very own provisional patent software. The Invent + Patent System™ has additionally been successfully used to coax inventors into formulating their concepts in a extra tangible means in order that the ideas transfer from a pure concept into one thing descriptive sufficient to be legally seen as an invention.

I additionally encourage all inventors and would-be inventors to learn One Easy Concept: Flip Your Goals right into a Licensing Goldmine, which is a wonderful ebook written by Stephen Key of Invent Proper. Though the title might sound prefer it contradicts some I’ve written above, Key can also be the writer of Promote Your Ideas With or With no Patent, which is one other a should learn. Key preaches submitting provisional patent purposes to create perceived possession (a time period I’ve adopted from him). I’ve lengthy been a fan of provisional patent purposes, which have solely grow to be extra necessary now that the U.S. has turn into a primary inventor to file system.

First to file needs to be interpreted as file first, which makes submitting provisional patent purposes shortly after an concept has matured into an invention is completely important.  In fact, a poorly ready and swiftly filed provisional patent software will present little or no profit. For extra info on provisional patent purposes please see:


For extra info on patent software drafting please see:

Completely satisfied inventing!


Picture Supply: Deposit Photographs.

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn

is a Patent Lawyer and Editor and founding father of Gene can also be a principal lecturer within the PLI Patent Bar Evaluate Course and an lawyer with Widerman Malek. Gene’s specialty is within the space of strategic patent consulting, patent software drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys dealing with peculiar procedural points on the Patent Workplace, advises buyers and executives on patent regulation modifications and pending litigation issues, and works with start-up companies all through america and around the globe, primarily coping with software program and pc associated improvements. Gene is admitted to apply regulation in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Lawyer and can also be admitted to follow earlier than america Courtroom of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to ship Gene a message.