To prove that your invention is novel, you must be able to show that the invention was not already known to the public when you invented it, that you were the first to invent it, and that you came up with the idea yourself.

How do I Know if My Invention was Known to the Public?

If there is a publication or product that is in the prior art (i.e., various sources that are available to the public) that has all the elements of your invention, your invention will be considered to be known to the public and therefore not novel. Even if you had no idea the publication or product existed, you will not be able to patent your invention. However, absolute novelty is not required. The important thing is whether the invention is in the public knowledge. So, if someone wrote a paper that anticipated your invention before you invented it, but never published the paper, it would not bar you from a patent.

If Someone Else Invents the Same Invention as Me, Who has Priority?

Priority is based on who is first to invent. If there is a dispute between two inventors over who has priority, the first inventor to reduce his invention to practice by making and testing it or to file for a patent application will have priority unless:

  • He abandoned, suppressed, or concealed his invention by delaying for an unreasonable period of time; or
  • The other inventor conceived of the invention first and worked with reasonable diligence to make and patent it.

If Someone Gives Me Ideas for an Invention, Can I Still Get a Patent?

It depends. Not every suggestion or idea you receive will bar you from getting a patent. You will be barred only if someone suggests an invention to you and tells you how to make it. Even if someone freely discloses an idea and has no intention to patent it, you cannot get a patent for the invention. Only the inventor is entitled to patent an invention.

Would I Benefit from Hiring a Patent Attorney?

Because the patent process is so complex, you may want to hire an intellectual property lawyer to help you with your patent issues. An experienced intellectual property attorney can help you determine if your invention meets the standards of novelty necessary to get a patent.