Attorney at Law

What is Novelty?

In intellectual property law, novelty refers to one of the three requirements for an invention or creation to be patentable according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). According to this standard, the invention must be original and cannot be known or used by others in the United States before the applicant invented it. To put it simply, intellectual property is considered novel if all of the components of the invention were not previously described or created by someone else. Conducting a thorough prior art patent search is typically recommended to avoid an application rejection due to lack of novelty.

Key Takeaways

  • Novelty is one of the three standards an invention or creation must meet in order to be considered patentable by the USPTO.
  • The invention must be original and cannot be prior art.
  • Prior art searches are a great way to make sure an invention or creation does not lack novelty.

Understanding Novelty in Patent Law

Patents grant an inventor exclusive rights to an invention. These rights are legally enforceable and prevent competitors from copying the inventor’s ideas. The powerful nature of these rights, however, requires that several criteria be met in order for a patent to be granted. Not all inventions and creations qualify for patent protection. Patents must be non-obvious, useful and novel. Let's take a closer look at what novelty in a patent truly means.

An invention is not eligible for patent protection if:

  • It was known, used, patented or described by others in the United States before the patent applicant invented it.
  • It was patented or described in a printed publication anywhere in the world more than one year prior to the inventor’s actual filing date of the patent application.
  • It was in public use or on sale in the United States more than one year prior to the inventor’s actual filing date of the patent application. 

Although these criteria are generally applicable, there are a few exceptions. Mainly, these rules don't prevent someone from patenting an improvement to an already existing invention. As long as the new improvement is not obvious, useful and new, it is typically patentable. For example, assume that someone has patented a unique method and recipe for making chocolate chip cookies. A few years later, an inventor created a formula of certain preservatives and additives that double the cookies’ shelf life. It is safe to assume that the inventor’s improvement would be patentable.

Further, the Supreme Court has stated that abstract ideas, products resulting from natural phenomena and laws of nature are not novel and are therefore not patentable. However, novel compositions of matter, articles of manufacture, processes and machines can generally receive a patent.

Bottom Line

Before getting started on your patent application, it is crucial to make sure your invention fulfills all of the necessary criteria according to the USPTO. Applying for a patent can take a lot of time, and you do not want to go through the entire process to have it rejected because of an error that could have been avoided. Consult with a qualified intellectual property lawyer as soon as possible for specialized assistance in patent protection.

Ask a Lawyer

Ask your own question and get advice from expert attorneys
Ask Question

Featured Intellectual Property Lawyers

Law Office of Edwin Burnett

36 years in practice
Copyright, Intellectual Property
View Profile

Weaver Robinson Law Firm, PLLC

40 years in practice
Bankruptcy, Intellectual Property
View Profile

The Law Offices of Scott E. Schutzman

29 years in practice
Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury
View Profile

Law Office of Scott Herlihy

27 years in practice
Alimony, At-Fault Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce & Family Law
View Profile

RYTELAW-Payman Bafekr, Esq.

1 years in practice
Auto Accidents, Bad Faith Insurance, Bicycle Accidents, Contract Law, Insurance Law
View Profile

Issa Law, LLC

13 years in practice
Auto Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Criminal Defense, DUI Law, Motorcycle Accidents
View Profile


Are you looking for an attorney? Do you have questions about a legal case you are facing? Contact us now and we will put you in touch with a lawyer for free.

Related Posts

Lia Kopin-GreenAugust 10, 2022
Collective Marks
Lia Kopin-GreenAugust 16, 2022
Fanciful Trademark
Lia Kopin-GreenSeptember 1, 2022
Lia Kopin-GreenNovember 3, 2022
Attorney At Law is changing how clients connect with lawyers. By providing an innovative platform to lawyers who want to expand their practice’s reach, AAL is bringing law practices into the future.
6142 Innovation Way
Carlsbad, California 92009
Some of the content of this website may be considered attorney advertising under the rules of certain jurisdictions. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.
crossmenuchevron-upchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram