Is My Idea Patentable?

The following is a transcript of Episode 2 from the "Patenting for Inventors" Podcast.

The short answer to the question of whether your idea is patentable, is "no, it’s not." Now this is really important, ideas, by themselves are not patentable. The idea is the first step, but it has to lead to an invention. An invention is usually a physical embodiment of your idea or steps involved used to accomplish your idea, but the idea by itself is not patentable.

Someone came to me and said they wanted to patent their idea of curing hiccups. Now it’s a great idea, but it’s not patentable by itself. The person might have some invention related to curing hiccups, and that might be patentable, or steps a person could take to cure hiccups, and that might be patentable as well.

For example, it could be a new drug that cures hiccups. It may be a machine that flashes lights in a specific way that somehow cures hiccups. It may be a machine that someone breathes into, and stops hiccupping. There can be any number of types of embodiments of inventions that cure hiccups, but the idea itself isn’t patentable. So if you hear me saying patenting an idea, what this means is patenting embodiments of that idea.