Ideas. Owned. ®

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What types of inventions are not patentable?

Inventing something that others want could turn out to be incredibly profitable. Hence it is natural that you want to protect your exclusivity.

The usual way to do this is by patenting your invention. However, it is not possible to patent every single invention. Some things do not qualify for this legal protection.

The first thing to do is check if your idea is original

You cannot patent something that someone else has already patented, even if you came up with the idea entirely alone, without any knowledge of their invention.

You cannot patent an idea

You’ve had a wonderful idea for something. That’s fantastic, but at this stage, it is just an idea in the eyes of the law.

If you want to patent it, you need to make your idea a reality. For example, if you want to patent a device that helps people see through walls, then you need to produce a prototype. You cannot just say, “I’ve got this great idea for an invention that would help people see through walls.”

Certain things are ineligible for patenting

U.S. patent law specifically excludes the following three categories from patents:

  • Laws of nature
  • Natural phenomena
  • Abstract ideas

For something to be patentable in the U.S.,  it must fall within one of the four following categories:

  • Process
  • Machine
  • Manufacture
  • Composition of Matter

Those categories are quite broad, so with legal help, you might be able to include something in a qualifying category that you would not have originally considered. Note that the rules and categories also vary between countries.

If you are unsure whether your invention is patentable, get legal help to understand more.


Contact us at 612-361-0309 or fill

out the form to the right.

Minnesota Office

4800 IDS Center

80 South 8th Street

Minneapolis, MN 55402

Phone: 612-361-0309

Montana Office

2066 Stadium Drive

Ste. 101

Bozeman, MT 59715

Phone: 406-851-9836


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