Novelty--A Unique Yet Important Idea For Patent Seekers
When most people hear the term novelty, they're often drawn to images of small knick knacks or holiday ornaments. However, for inventors and patent seekers, the term holds a much more relevant and important meaning. In terms of patent law, novelty refers to an idea that is new and not widely known.
This makes sense--after all, an idea that is well-known wouldn't make someone immediately rush to the patent office to file their application. An invention is, by definition, something new. That said, the common definition of the term can't really help you understand the legal implications contained in it. There are two specific questions about novelty that all inventors should ask.
Is Your Idea Already Known To The Public?
This is a common area where well-intended inventors often venture into difficult territory. If you've come up with an invention that has a specific, useful purpose, there's a good chance that you've told people about it. If you've implemented this invention at your workplace, you might have even given presentations on it.
Unfortunately, if it is deemed that the public is already aware of your invention, you might not be able to acquire a patent for it. This is, as you might expect, a difficult subject for the legal experts to sort out at times. As a rule of thumb, you should consider applying for a patent before you go public with any information about your invention acquire a patent (from an outlet such as Adrienne Naumann) for it. This is, as you might expect, a difficult subject for the legal experts to sort out at times. As a rule of thumb, you should consider applying for a patent before you go public with any information about your invention.
If you have already gone public with your invention, all is not lost. There is a one year grace period after public disclosures for inventors who seek a patent, so you might still have options. No matter what, if you have an invention that you've gone public with, the time to speak with a patent law expert is now.
Are You The First To File?
In the past, patents were awarded to inventors who were the first to invent something. This made it vital, in the past, to be able to document the times and dates of your inventions. Due to the legal mess that this sometimes caused, the U.S. has moved to a "first-to-file" patent application system.
This means that the first inventor to file for a patent will get it--so long as the invention is patentable. It doesn't matter if you can prove that you invented the item in question first. That makes it critical that, upon creating something new, your first phone call is to your patent law expert. Otherwise, you run the risk of another person filing, which could cause your application to fail the novelty test.
While the legal definition of novelty is often complex, the implications for inventors and patent-seekers is not. Early communication with your patent law expert will significantly increase the chances that your patent application progresses smoothly and that novelty doesn't become an issue for you.