As patent attorneys, it’s very common to hear an inventor say that their invention is better than existing devices or methods because it is faster/cheaper/more efficient and so on.
While these advantages are important considerations when seeking to patent an invention (after all, there is not much point in patenting an invention that doesn’t work as well as the existing technology), the fact that an invention may work more effectively than an existing device or method won’t necessarily be enough to obtain a granted patent.
The reason for this is simple: patent applications are all about the physical features of an invention, and how those physical features make the invention work. To be granted a patent, your invention must be physically different to what has been done before, and those physical differences must provide the invention with an advantage over the existing technology.
For example, if you have invented a new type of motor vehicle, it is not enough to say that your invention is different because it is more fuel-efficient than existing motor vehicles. Instead, it is critical that you identify the physical feature(s) of your invention that give it the advantage of being more fuel-efficient. For instance, have you invented an engine that burns fuel in a more efficient manner? Have you made the motor vehicle from a new, lightweight material that reduces the overall weight of the vehicle? Have you invented tyres that will maintain an optimum pressure for reducing fuel consumption for a longer period of time? If so, it is these physical features of the invention that you will be protected with a patent, not the fact that your motor vehicle is more fuel-efficient.
A failure to identify the physical features that provide an invention with its advantages is quite likely to be fatal to a patent application. If there are no physical differences between your invention and an existing device or method, a patent examiner will conclude (quite rightly) that the existing technology should be able to achieve the same advantage because it is physically identical to the invention.
In short, when you have created an invention, always keep in mind that it is critical to be able to identify what is physically different about your invention that allows it to work better than other devices or methods in the same technology.
The team at Kings Patent & Trade Marks Attorneys can help you identify your intellectual property and devise the appropriate IP strategy for your business. Contact us today and we can talk you through the next steps.