Can Ideas Be Patented Or Protected?

D'vorah Graeser

Picture this. 

You’re talking with your friends, you talk about a problem you have and you start thinking about ways to solve it.

Suddenly, someone comes up with an idea you’ve never heard about.

The idea is so good, somebody suggests getting it patented!

Everyone agrees. It’s such a great idea, it needs to be protected.

Protecting your ideas is important, you don’t want anyone else using them, especially if they’re as good as you think they are!

But, is it possible to do that? Can ideas be patented or protected?

Here’s the ugly truth: you can’t!

Ideas, just ideas, can’t be protected. No matter how good, cool, or unique you think your idea is, if you can’t turn it into something more concrete, you can’t protect it.

So what do you need to do in order to protect your idea?

Here’s the good news: an idea can be protected if it’s an invention.

Keep reading to know how to go from idea to patentable invention in just three steps!

How to know if your idea is an invention

The amazing thing about ideas is that you can think beyond the limits of what’s possible, you can suspend the laws of physics, you can think about anything.

That’s great!

But not if you want to protect them.

For an idea to be protected, it needs to be an invention. Inventions solve problems, they have specified steps. We’re sure a lot of people thought that it would be amazing if we had pocket computers connected to the internet that we could use no matter where we were. It’s a great idea. But you know what’s better? That there were people that actually thought how to make it possible, contributing to the creation of the mobile phone.

If a person had gone to the patent office trying to patent this pocket computer, that wouldn’t have been possible. But, if you’re thinking about an antenna that will connect the phones to the internet and you know exactly how that would work, then you have an invention on your hands.

Your idea needs to solve a problem in a tangible way. It needs to be a process, machine, composition of matter, or manufacture for it to be considered as an invention.

Think about ideas in a better way:

You need to figure out what the outcome of your idea will be. You need to think about the way it would work out in real life. In this case, you can’t suspend the laws of nature, you have to think about what’s possible right here, right now.

Your invention needs to be useful.

Your invention needs to be patentable

If you know that your idea is an invention, that’s already a great start! 

But, it’s not everything.

Even if an idea is already an invention or can be turned into an invention, not all inventions can be patented.

There are two main things you have to consider to know if your invention is patentable:

1. The invention must fit into a patentable category

2. The invention must be new and non-obvious

You can read more about knowing if your idea is patentable here

Getting a patent for your invention is great not only because nobody else will be able to steal it, but because it also proves how unique your invention is.

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Knowing if your invention is unique

It’s quite easy to know if your invention is unique enough to be patented: you need to do a patent search.

There are some free tools you can use to do it:

  • The USPTO.gov search tool. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has a tool that lets you search through records back to 1790. This is a keyword-based search.
  • Google Patents is one of the most popular tools to search for patents. It works exactly the same as Google (it’s also a keyword-based search) and it’s easy to use. Although using Google Patents is a great start, it makes it difficult to narrow your searches as it has fewer search fields.
  • Espacenet. This tool is to search among European patents. It’s great if you want to patent your invention in Europe or are thinking about it.

These tools are great to start conducting your patent search!

Now, if you want to make a better patent search, we’d recommend you to use iSearch.ai.

iSearch is a new patent search tool that uses AI to search for existing patents based on your invention, not on keywords. This is great because all you have to do is describe your idea as if you were talking with a friend and our AI will do all the legwork — find all relevant patents, uncover competitors you should look out for, and identify potential overlaps.

One of the most useful features iSearch has is that it gives your invention a uniqueness score. You’ll immediately know how your invention compares to others and which improvements you can make to turn it into a more unique invention.

Try iSearch.ai here.

After conducting a patent search, you’ll have a crystal clear idea of where your invention would fit in the market, if it’s really unique, and if you can patent it.

Start moving

To recap, can ideas be patented or protected? No, but it can be if you make sure that:

  • Your idea is an invention that solves a problem
  • Your invention fits into a patentable category
  • Your invention is new and non-obvious
  • You’ve done a patent search

If you’ve followed these steps and you know you can protect your invention, it’s time to get moving!

This is the most important thing you have to do.

Lots of innovators simply don’t take the necessary steps to protect their ideas. It’s very common for them to discover that somebody else already patented something similar, blocking them from protecting their inventions.

Don’t let that happen to you.

The world needs your idea today more than ever. Do something about it today!

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