There are three different types of patents you can get from the US Patent and Trademark office (PTO). All inventions fall into one of these three categories for getting a patent, which are utility patents, design patents and plant patents.
Most innovative ideas, or inventions, will qualify for a patent if the invention offers something new (is novel) and is clever. Clever meaning that it must be something that is not obvious, it needs to be something that not anyone would obviously think of to solve a problem or create a device. There are a number of things that however do not qualify for a patent, even though they are sometimes very clever.
These things are most often things that occur naturally, such as discovered laws of nature, mathematical formulas and substances that exist in nature and are newly discovered. All of these examples are often unpatentable. When the patent office decides if a new invention is something they will patent, they make these decisions determining if the invention is indeed novel in some way, and then decide if it is really not obvious as discussed in the article on https://sites.duke.edu/perspective/2018/11/12/bringing-ideas-to-the-world-with-inventhelp/ too.
An invention might qualify for getting a utility patent from the PTO if it falls into one of these 5 categories:
- The invention is a process.
- The invention is a machine.
- The invention is a manufacture.
- The invention is a composition of matter.
- The invention is an improvement of an existing idea that falls into one of the above categories.
Often when getting a utility patent a qualifying invention will fall into more than one category for the same invention, but no matter how many categories of a utility patent an invention falls under, it can only have one utility patent issued on it. Computer software is a good example of something that would fall into getting a patent in more than one utility patent category. It is best to ask for help from professional patenting agency such as InventHelp in patenting process.