Los Angeles, CA (Law Firm Newswire) February 13, 2014 - Many patents cover inventions that are improvements over existing devices (as opposed to completely new devices).
Novice inventors and others new to the field of intellectual property often wonder whether a small improvement to a patented invention may ever receive patent protection of its own. But as a local intellectual property attorney explained, so-called “improvement inventions” actually constitute the majority of patents issued. Wholly new inventions are a relative rarity.
“Most patents, by far, cover improvements to existing technology,” said Los Angeles patent attorney Pejman Yedidsion. “Pioneering inventions are not that common. Many inventions consist of new combinations of old technologies that may produce unexpected results, or that stem from a long-felt but unmet need.”
One example of an improvement to existing technology was the Gillette Mach 3 razor, which had three blades — existing patented razors on the market had two at the time.
Improvements to existing inventions commonly utilize new technology to update older products. When microprocessors became widespread and cost-effective, many devices that used analog circuitry were improved with the new technology. Those improvements were eligible for patent protection.
Additionally, when a new use for an existing product is invented, that innovation may qualify for patent protection. For example, a product called Bag Balm, invented in 1899, was originally used in dairy operations to soothe a cow's irritated udders. Over time, its use widened to the treatment of chapped skin for many animals and humans. Eventually, it was discovered to be an effective treatment for male pattern baldness, due to its moisturizing properties. In 2000, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit allowed a patent covering this new use of the 100-year-old formula.
“When an inventor improves upon an existing invention, no matter how small the improvement may seem, we encourage them to consult with us on the patentability of the work,” added Yedidsion. “You may be surprised at how useful small changes can be.”
Brooks Acordia IP Law, P.C.
1445 E. Los Angeles Ave. #108
Simi Valley, CA 93065-2827
Phone: (805) 579-2500
Fax: (805) 584-6427