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What are Novelty and Non-obviousness?

Logo for Quora, where Dana Shultz answered a question about novelty and non-obviousness for utility patentsNovelty and non-obviousness are requirements for a utility patent to be granted in the United States.

This post explains the meaning of novelty and non-obviousness. I have based this on my answer to a Quora question. Please see What exactly defines novelty and non-obvious in regards to patenting?

USPTO on Novelty and Non-obviousness

I have copied, below (emphasis added), portions of what the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office says about these criteria. For more information, please see General information concerning patents.

Novelty:

In order for an invention to be patentable it must be new as defined in the patent law, which provides that an invention cannot be patented if:

“(1) the claimed invention was patented, described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention” or

“(2) the claimed invention was described in a patent issued [by the U.S.] or in an application for patent published or deemed published [by the U.S.], in which the patent or application, as the case may be, names another inventor and was effectively filed before the effective filing date of the claimed invention.”

Non-obviousness:

Even if the subject matter sought to be patented is not exactly shown by the prior art, and involves one or more differences over the most nearly similar thing already known, a patent may still be refused if the differences would be obvious. The subject matter sought to be patented must be sufficiently different from what has been used or described before that it may be said to be non-obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the area of technology related to the invention. For example, the substitution of one color for another, or changes in size, are ordinarily not patentable.

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