Many physicians are surprised to learn that the methods or improvements they’ve developed while seeing patients or running their medical practices may be patentable.
For example, a doctor may have developed a stronger suture or a gentle-glide catheter that offers more comfort for patients. These improvements to existing products, if they are truly new and non-obvious, may be entitled to patent protection with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
Likewise, if a physician has developed a new way to treat a patient, they may be able to obtain a patent for their unique scientific method.
Basic Qualifications to Obtain a Patent
In order to obtain a patent, an invention must meet several criteria:
- The invention must be new and non-obvious.
- It must be capable of being reduced to practice. This means that the invention must be able to be built or otherwise rendered into a physical form.
- The invention must have utility, meaning that it must serve some useful purpose.
- The invention must not be ineligible for patenting under the law. Examples of ineligible inventions include laws of nature, natural phenomena, and abstract ideas.
If a physician develops an invention that meets all of these criteria, he or she should speak with a patent attorney to discuss the possibility of filing a patent application. The attorney will then help to determine whether the invention is indeed patentable and if so, will assist in drafting and filing the application. By obtaining a patent on their invention, physicians can help to ensure that they will be able to reap the financial rewards of their hard work and ingenuity.
Keep in mind, in the United States, you have 12 months from the time the invention was first sold or disclosed within which to file either a provisional patent application or a non-provisional patent application. If you wait longer than 12 months, then you have forever forfeited the right to obtain a patent in the US. In many foreign countries you forfeit the right to a patent upon sale or disclosure of your invention.
If you are a physician and you have additional questions about patent eligibility, our attorneys are available to help you navigate your next best steps to protect your new invention. To schedule a complimentary consultation, simply contact us at (888) 666-0062 or click here to schedule online.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney.