Under the patent laws of the United States, an invention must meet the requirement of being “nonobvious” in order to be patented or licensed for use in the country. This regulation is in place in other countries of the world as well, but is known by different terms. When the patent office receives an application to patent a new invention there are several tests that it must undergo to determine the quality of “nonobviousness.”
Graham factors are employed when testing as to whether an invention is obvious or non-obvious. This involves looking at the invention in light of other inventions that claim to do the same thing. It looks at the scope and content, as well as the level of skill involved and the difference between the new invention and prior ones of the same type.
In determining the nonobviousness of an invention, the commercial success or failure of the invention comes into play. The invention must meet needs that people have had for a long time but were unable to come up with a viable solution. It will also take a look at other similar inventions and their success or failure rate.
In order for an invention to be deemed non-obvious, every component of it must not have been invented before by you or someone else, so it has to be completely original. Another aspect of deciding whether or not an invention meets this requirement involves taking a look at what the invention does and whom it will benefit. Its use has to be original as well. If, for example, you invent a chopping tool that would be obviously needed by a person working in food preparation, whether as a commercial venture or for home use and this person could accomplish this by another means, then your invention will be considered obvious, rather than non-obvious and patent will be denied.
An item patented in another country but not available in the United States also comes under the nonobvious clause of the patent law. Taking a patent that has been used and patenting as your own will be denied because it is not new or original even though it may be in great demand in this country. This also applies whether or not the actual item was ever patented or developed to be sold. If it was even described in writing in an publication, then its originality is considered null and void.
For inventors who have novel ideas that they want to patent, they must make sure that the item they develop fills a need that has not been met in any prior inventions and they should never write about it before they receive the patent license.