Understanding USC 103

If you are a business person, you will understand that competition is a real challenge within every industry. However, some people opt to protect their intellectual property from infringement by other people within their own industry. Therefore, they seek a legal right to own those ideas and inventions for themselves; depriving others of the opportunity to steal or use their ideas. The legal right in question here is known as a patent. In the United States, the government has secured a set of procedures that anyone interested in obtaining a patent must follow. This set of procedures are entailed in the United States Code (USC 103)

What is USC 103?

The USC 103 is demanding for a layman to understand, but if you are planning to protect your ideas and inventions from the rest of the world, then you should seriously consider hiring a patent attorney who can guide you and inform you of the specific codes and legalities. Let us focus on understanding some of the most important aspects of United States Code 103.

The USC 103 enumerates many forms of laws. However, this article is interested in patent law, otherwise classified as 35 USC section 103. The section focuses on non obvious subject matter as a condition for patentability. 35 USC 103 falls under the 2004 CREAT act that seeks to task applicants of a patent to provide hard evidence that they owned, or were subject to an obligation of assignment to the invention, at the time the invention was made.

Section 103 of the United States Code also defines the procedures for issuing a patent to the respective applicant under this element of non obvious subject matter.

35 USC 103: Conditions for Non-Patentability; Non Obvious Subject Matter

Having explained the legal coverage of 35 USC 103, let’s move to some real law to enlighten you about the philosophies behind the code:

35 USC 103 is about non obvious subject matter. You would then be on point to ask, what constitutes non obviousness? As a requirement for the USPTO, you will also need to prove the non obvious element of the invention.

The non obvious subject matter will determine whether you get a patent or not as far as 35 USC 103 is concerned. The code serves the ground to protect your invention because of the benefits it accrues.

Proving non obviousness might include proving the following three concepts:

  1. Commercial success.
  2. Existing yet unsolved needs.
  3. Registered failure by others.

If you can prove the above three concepts, then you will be providing grounds to obtain a patent. In the first instance, you need to prove that your invention has resulted into commercial success. This means that you will have registered  increase in sales, courtesy of the invention. For example, if you are in the wine industry, and you come up with a procedure to make the wine sweeter, and, as a result, you received more clients; that procedure is responsible for the success, hence a reason to patent it.

You also need to prove that there existed a need that was never satisfied. Using the wine example, the very fact that you registered an increase in the sales after the invention of the procedure, proves that there was a market for such a product.   However, not a single person was able to satisfy that market and so you did. In this scenario yet again, you earn an additional arguments to patent the procedure.

Finally, you would also need to prove that other people tried and failed. While this is not necessarily mandatory, it can go a long way in proving that indeed you broke ground where others failed; hence you deserve to protect your idea. The question of obviousness comes in from the perception that if the elements above were obvious, someone else could have already used the invention before you came up with it. The fact that you invented the ideas before anyone else makes it “non obvious”.

In conclusion, the 35 USC 103 code does not only seek to prove ownership, or subjectivity to obligation of assignment at the time of invention, but also the non obvious element of the invention. In a patent application, you need to prove that you are directly linked to the invention, and the invention needs to be able to be proved as non-obvious to the satisfaction of the USPTO examiner.

More information on USC 103 can be found here.