What really constitutes an idea nowadays to make it worthy of obtaining a patent? That's a question we've seen debated in the realm of intellectual property for a while now. It seems to have started two years ago when U.S. patent rules changed so that whoever managed to patent an idea first gets credit, regardless of when the idea was created. But that branched into an argument the government was issuing too many patents to ideas that were vague and had no real proven use.
In the process, giving patents to abstract ideas has led to an influx in patent infringement cases and a clogging of the legal system. The Supreme Court took notice and is now deciding whether patents should start being limited to more distinct ideas that don't overlap with similar ideas.
While the the Supreme Court tries to sort this out this month, the crux of it comes in one case the Justices will be examining. The New York Times mentions this case as a financial firm going after another financial firm for patenting an idea of a computer being a middleman during trades. Since this computer concept is considered abstract and used elsewhere, the firm filing suit claims they patented the idea first.
It's not that some abstract ideas haven't already been banned from obtaining patents. Four years ago, the Supreme Court blocked some overly basic economic principles from ever being patentable. Regardless, there's still arguments saying semming broad abstract ideas actually have subtle mechanisms that make them stand alone. The use of a computer-based system above is an idea that falls on a very debatable line. It has to be decided whether it's an overall basic concept or one with certain programming capabilities enabling something specific.
As the Supreme Court debates this case, it could affect your own business if you have ideas considered too abstract. What should you do if faced with a similar situation?
If you've created a scientific idea that you want to protect with a patent, you have to make it clear how it stands apart from similar ideas. If it's a computer-aided concept, what small details did you add for uniqueness? Even inventions can be a variation on an existing product that needs clarification on how it's been improved.
While there may soon be additional patent laws with more clarity, it might make it challenging for your company if you're in the process now of creating an idea. It's time you took the time to assess what you're working on and whether it's worth investing time in that or something unique so you won't run into complications.
If this entails random intellectual property that already exists in your company, we can help you scope it out here at Traklight. We're here to educate you on the best procedures in obtaining a patent while also bringing protection so you don't have to deal with someone stealing your idea. Litigation can be devastatingly expensive to companies, and knowing how to properly protect your IP will help save you money in hiring lawyers.
Contact us so we can tell you more about what we do and to help you obtain a patent for an appropriate idea before the laws change even more