You can patent something that you invent, but can you patent something that merely improves an existing invention? That’s a question we have heard more than a few times, and we have some good news for creative people who like to work on improvements for things that already exist. In some cases, those improvements can qualify for patent protection themselves. An Orange County, California patent lawyer can help you see if your idea can be protected.

How Can Improvements Be Patented?

Improvements to existing inventions can be patented provided that they meet a few important criteria. These “patent improvements” can then receive the same protection as a patented invention would. Generally, the improvement would need to:

  • Be a novel addition to the existing invention
  • Provide a new use for the existing invention
  • Not be obvious to someone with skill in the field where the invention is used
  • An addition that is actually useful to the invention
  • Replicatable by others working in the field where the invention is used

So in many ways, this is similar to the criteria for an invention that you want to patent. These improvements must add something to the existing invention and they cannot just be something that anyone could have invented. If you think that your idea should be protected, then you need to file an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The USPTO will complete its own examination and decide whether or not you should be awarded the patent.

How Can I Sell the Improved Invention?

Unfortunately, selling your invention can be tricky. Because your patent is just for an add-on for an existing item, you need to be careful about how you proceed.

In many cases, you will need to license the patent for the original invention in order to make any use of your patent improvement. You can improve something, but you would need permission to sell that original item. Otherwise there is not much that you can do to monetize your invention.

This is when you may want to talk to an attorney. A lawyer can help you figure out what needs to be done in order to actually do something with this thing that you invented. If you cannot sell a product yourself, maybe licensing the patent to someone else is a good option. If you have a good idea, our firm will help you make use of it somehow!

Contact Our Law Firm Today

Navigating the patent application process on your own can be tough. It can be more difficult when you are trying to patent improvements to existing items. That’s why you should contact Burns Patent Law. Schedule a consultation with our team and learn more about this process and how an experienced patent attorney can help you.