The requirements that an invention must meet in order to be patentable are commonly listed as follows.

The invention must be:
1. statutory, i.e., covering patentable subject matter
2. novel
3. useful
4. nonobvious

What makes an invention “nonobvious”? The rare, completely novel concept will certainly be considered a nonobvious invention. However, more commonly, an invention will improve upon prior art or combine elements of various prior art references. The determination of whether such an invention is nonobvious can be quite difficult and subjective.

An invention is “obvious” only if the claim is taught, suggested or motivated by prior art. The existence of an invention’s individual features in the prior art does not itself allow a finding of obviousness. In order to meet the non-obviousness requirement, the combination of those features must be obvious to someone with “ordinary skill in the art.”

A patent examiner may rule that a claim is obvious by citing prior art references. By finding something within the prior art that teaches against the claim, an Applicant may overcome this obstacle. That is, in order to teach against the claim, the prior art must not merely be silent on the features of the claim. Instead, it must discourage a person of ordinary skill in the art from following the path taken by the Applicant.

Many rejections on obviousness may be overcome by the above-mentioned method or by other methods, but the process is often nuanced. The experienced patent attorneys at Brooks Acordia can help overcome obviousness and other types of rejections made during the patent application process to guide an Applicant’s invention on the road to a granted patent.

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