Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Sep 21, 2011

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An invention must fall within one of four main classes of inventions to be patentable including process, machines, articles of manufacture, or composition of matter. In order to be eligible for a patent, the invention must not be obvious to a person having ordinary skills in the subject matter and it must have some utility. Utility means proof that the invention can be made operable and not be frivolous in nature.

Process Invention Patents

A process is defined as how a product is created or prepared for sale. Some examples of patentable processes would include a new means of tempering steel, a new way to remove pesticides from produce, or a new way to treat municipal water. The application for a process requires that the entire process be presented in detail, including an explanation of its purposes and advantages.

Machine Invention Patents

While it may seem obvious, there are some things that may not fit into this category. The machines referred to for this patent are manufacturing robots and manufacturing machines, not household mechanical devices. For example, robot arms for assembly lines, new conveyor belts, or a new type of labeling machine would all fall under the machine category. In this category, a blueprint for the machine part must be included. In addition, it is required to show that the machine part actually works. Typically, video of the machine part in use will be included in the application.

Articles of Manufacture Patents

This is the category that all household devices and handy inventions fall into. Articles of manufacture include everything from lawn flamingos to iPods. Basically, anything that is mass-produced and sold to the public is an article of manufacture.

Composition of Matter Patents

This category is one for chemists. It includes the creation of new elements and chemical compounds. This application requires specific instructions on the creation of the element and any details as to stability or instability. If you are unsure what category your invention falls under, consult with a patent attorney.