You might have thought about patenting your invention if you are an inventor who has created a process for making something. This will prevent others from infringing your work and profiting from it. Can you patent a process? 

This article will discuss the Criteria that determine whether or not a process can be patented. Then we will look at how to get a patent for a medical procedure or a business method. And finally, we will review Exceptions to the Patent Act and how to get a patent for a business method.

Can You Patent a Process?  

The answer is yes, You can patent a process. This is when you obtain a utility patent that protects a sequence of steps used to make a physical object. To be patentable, your process must contain patentable subject matter. It must also be unique and useful.  Patenting your method, prevent others from making, selling, or using the process for up to 20 years after the date that you filed your utility patent application.

A process patent is granted to someone who has invented a unique method that alters the properties of physical materials.

If you depend on a process for manufacturing something and it is unique and new, you might consider patenting it. This will allow you to keep the process secret and prevent others from copying the process.

Development

Criteria for determining if a process can be patented

You will need a utility patent to patent a process. Utility patents can be used to protect inventions, processes and machines as well as articles of manufacture. A utility patent is granted to protect a process that (1) has patentable subject matte, (2) must be novel, (3) nonobvious, and (3) must be useful (have utility).

#1. Patentable Subject Matter

To patent a process, it must have patentable subject material. The process of manufacturing physical objects falls within the patentable subject matter umbrella for which the USPTO offers patent protection. However, patenting a process means that you are only protecting the process of making the object, and not the product. Your process must meet the remaining requirements to be patentable.

#2. Novelty

Your process must be new. This means that it is unique from any other publicly disclosed or patentable processes. You cannot patent any process that is identical or similar to the one you are trying to patent. You must also patent your process within 12 months after disclosing it to the public to be eligible for patent. Not divulging the process to the public does not mean that you can keep it secret or use it. If you do tell the public about your procedure, it will be considered to have been disclosed. You have a maximum of one year to file a patent request to protect it.

#3. Nonobviousness

To patent your process, it must be unique. This means that the process cannot be easily discovered by someone not skilled in the area of the patent you are trying to protect. The process must be novel. This requirement can be satisfied if your process is substantially different from any other publicly disclosed or patentable processes in the past. If your process solves an unsolved problem, it is strong evidence that you are not obvious and should be granted a utility patent.

#4. Useful

In order to patent your invention, you must prove that your process is useful. You can establish the usefulness requirement by proving that your process has some utility. This means it provides some tangible benefit to society. The utility requirement for most inventions or processes is easy to satisfy, provided that you include a statement explaining the utility of your invention with your utility patent application.

A licensed patent attorney is required to help you decide whether or not to patent your invention. A patent attorney can help you determine if your process is eligible for a patent.

Bilski v. Kappos Case Test for patent Process Eligibility

In the case of Bilski, the patent application was refused based on its claim that it was a process. Although Bilski sought to patent the concept of hedging risks, the court ruled that a concept such as this is not eligible. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Bilski’s patent application because his concept was abstract. In other words, a process can’t be patented simply because it’s a technique or process that’s used to make something else.

Exceptions to the U.S. Patent Act

Among the Exceptions to the U.S. Patent Act are “experimental uses.” These activities are used for gratification of scientific tastes, curiosity, or amusement. Such activities do not infringe patentee interests, and promote the knowledge and relaxation of the inventor, not commercial use. Depending on the circumstances, this exception can negate either the public use or the first sale time bar.

The patent statute contains a number of exceptions to the patentability of an invention. Abstract ideas and natural phenomena are not subject to patentability. Nonetheless, an invention that satisfies the requirements of one of the four categories is still considered patentable. Several exceptions have been created over the years. A number of recent exceptions have expanded the scope of the statute, especially for medical diagnostic tests and computer software.

Generally, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board may not grant review unless the USPTO finds that the invention is unpatentable. Moreover, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board has a higher evidentiary standard than U.S. courts. However, patents granted to patented ideas are unenforceable unless they conform to prior art. In other words, patents issued in violation of a provision of the law violate the rights of third parties.

In some situations, the government may exercise its right to make, use, or manufacture a patentable invention without any permission. However, if a patent holder fails to obtain the permission from a third party, they may bring an action for reasonable compensation before the United States Court of Federal Claims. A petition must be filed with the Patent Office to obtain a mandatory license. It must be accompanied by a compelling business reason for the use of the patent.

Besides the aforementioned exceptions, section 103 of the patent act contains specific requirements for the pleading in a patent infringement action. It requires the Supreme Court to eliminate the current model patent infringement complaint form in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Otherwise, courts will dismiss claims that do not meet the pleading requirements. A plausible claim must provide an “inexact” description of the information that is inaccessible after reasonable inquiry.

Getting a patent for a business method

Business method patents fall under the category of Utility Patents and are a relatively expensive process. The application process can take two to three years and can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000.

A business method patent protects a particular process, and it prevents other companies from using it without your permission or paying you a fee. However, it must also be able to pass the machine-or-transformation test, which requires that the method is linked to a machine and transformed by a third party. This test helps distinguish business methods from abstract ideas. After deciding whether a business method is patentable, the examiner will conduct tests to evaluate the validity of the patent application.

A business method patent is filed in the same manner as a utility patent. It must be complete and detailed, with the description of the process in a manner that enables fellow practitioners to reproduce and benefit from it. If the process is not completely clear, the examiner may require amendments to the claims. Often, a business method patent application will fail if it fails to pass these tests, so it’s important to submit an updated version.

While a business method patent can be a lucrative process, a company should always commission a patent search prior to using the invention. If it’s discovered that a competitor had already patented a business method, the company may be liable for treble damages, attorney’s fees, and a court injunction. This is a risk not worth taking. A business method patent will protect your business method, but it won’t protect you from legal repercussions if your company uses it without permission.

A business method patent can be highly valuable if it has been proven to be an innovative solution. During the patent process, the examiner will review the details provided by the applicant. The business method must be entirely new and cannot be derived from any prior inventions. In addition, the method should be useful, not copied or similar to patented technology. A business method can only be patentable if it is useful and not obvious.

Getting a patent for a medical procedure

Medical procedure patents are claims for specific ways to perform a medical treatment on a patient. The words “method” and “procedure” are often used interchangeably. Some recent patents cover a variety of medical procedures, from treating cancer to administering insulin to diagnosing heart problems. However, obtaining a medical procedure patent isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. There are some key requirements to follow, including thorough disclosure of the steps in the medical procedure and an adequate description of its effect.

Aside from limiting access to a patented medical procedure, it can also limit competition among health care organizations. The competition among health care organizations may provide incentives for exclusive licenses, which would limit who else could practice the procedure. While exclusive licenses might increase profits for patentees, they would also likely increase costs for health care. Further, a patentee’s costs would probably be higher than competitors’.

Despite the obvious advantages of a medical procedure patent, there are many hurdles associated with this method. For one, the patentee would need to track the activities of a large number of physicians. This is unlikely to be feasible, given the strict privacy rules that physicians have to abide by. In addition, doctors’ confidentiality rules would make enforcement difficult. But for newer, more complicated methods, the patentee may be able to get the necessary support from a small group of doctors.

Because physicians are highly motivated to improve patients’ health, they routinely patent medical devices. This means that the benefits of medical procedure patents will far outweigh the costs of the process. Moreover, patents help protect an inventor’s intellectual property. This means that others can’t copy what they’ve done. It’s a crucial part of product development. Without a proper intellectual property strategy, medical innovations will be vulnerable to infringement of others’ rights.