In the language of the statute, any person who “invents or discovers any new and useful”:

  1. Process;
  2. Machine;
  3. Manufacture;
  4. Composition of matter; or
  5. Improvement thereof;

may obtain a patent subject to the conditions and requirements of the law. After much litigation, patentability has been established for genetically-engineered microorganisms and computer software-based inventions.

The term “process” is defined by law as a process, act or method, and primarily includes industrial and technical processes. An extreme example of a patentable process is a method of folding a blanket.  The term “manufacture” refers to articles which are made, and includes all manufactured articles. Examples include shoes, chairs, computers, machinery, toys, and pens.  The term “composition of matter” relates to chemical compositions and may include mixtures of ingredients as well as new chemical compounds.

The USPTO does not require the inventor to understand how or why their invention works. Also, the inventor does not need a prototype to receive a patent.  The inventor must only be able to describe the invention in sufficient detail so that one skilled in the art may construct the invention from the disclosure within the patent.


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