Patents are great for protecting your ideas in various formats. (dictionary.com result of idea)
What can and cannot be patented?
What can be patented – utility patents are provided for a new, nonobvious and useful:
- Article of manufacture
- Composition of matter
- Improvement of any of the above
Note: In addition to utility patents, encompassing one of the categories above, patent protection is available for (1) ornamental design of an article of manufacture or (2) asexually reproduced plant varieties by design and plant patents.
What cannot be patented:
- Laws of nature
- Physical phenomena
- Abstract ideas
- Literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works (these can be Copyright protected).
- Inventions which are:
- Not useful (such as perpetual motion machines); or
- Offensive to public morality
Invention must also be:
- Adequately described or enabled (for one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention)
- Claimed by the inventor in clear and definite terms
More information about patents can be found on the USA Patent Offices patent page.
INVENTORS: If you are an inventor you should check out the patent office’s inventor page. They have created this to aid inventors in the patenting process as well as scam prevention and numerous other topics. Find the inventors help page on the patent office.
What they have listed
- Patents for Inventors: Tools, FAQs, Downloads
- Trademarks for Inventors: Tools, FAQs
- Inventors Assistance: Local assistance, Customer service
- Education and Information: Online chat transcripts, Inventor news
- Scam Prevention: Published complaints
- Pro Se – Pro Bono: Legal aid
- Current Events: Conferences, conventions
- State Resources: State contact info
- Inventors Eye: Bi-monthly newsletter
Many people feel that ideas cannot be patented. That is a misunderstanding. There are variations of ideas. Abstract ideas cannot be patented but actionable ideas that can be defined well enough can be. There are also varitions in ideas such as a raw idea vs a refined idea. There are also ideas that are one component or various components put together. That would be a simple idea vs a complex idea.
Abstract ideas are things like physics or the idea of what a noun is. You cannot therefore patent those kinds of ideas.
For instance the idea of mini games between levels that are loading was patented. That is an idea, a concept, a non-executed item due to it being patented and not being able to be utilized unless you have a license to it that you have to pay for. So in this case, the idea is worth more than the non-executed concept.
So it should come as no surprise that gaming has an equally lengthy history of companies filing patents to counteract those knockoffs. Some of these may be relatively well known, such as Namco’s patent on letting players play minigames during loading screens or the force feedback patent that saw Immersion win its nearly $100 million lawsuit against Sony over the DualShock line of controllers.