Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Patentability doubt

  1. Jan 25, 2010 #1
    Dear Forummers,

    I have a doubt regarding patents.

    Hope you can provide me some advice.

    1. If product A is patented , can product B also be patented if it does the same thing ?

    For discussion purpose, lets use an example.
    Lets say a product, A, is patented. Its purpose or function is to turn on a LED using a touch screen.

    If another product, B, achieves the same thing using also the same touch screen and LED but the circuit component or circuit design is different, can product B be patented as well? Or is it that just by being the 1st to patent the idea, product B cannot be patented because the function achieved is the same even though the circuit is different? For example, to achieve a certain circuit function, more than 1 ways is possible. If a different circuit is used to achieve the same result, can product B be patented?

    I ask this question because i have been wondering for a long time, why is it that 2 differently branded cars and 2 differently branded computers can achieve the same function without one being sued by the other or infringing intellectual property rights of the other.

    Best regards
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 25, 2010 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    In the US you can patent anything, the two companies decide later in court who is right.

    Patents only cover specific inventive steps, you can't patent a car or a computer, only specific bits such as a particular new design for ABS or a new CPU.
  4. Jan 25, 2010 #3
    I think it is better that the means of achieving a given end should be patented, rather than the end itself. The latter seems more likely to stifle future progress.

    If that had been done, television technology might have come to a halt with John Logie Baird!
  5. Jan 25, 2010 #4
    Usually unless you've just invented something so unique it's never been seen before, you can only patent the means of achieving something or solution to a problem. Not the item itself.

    Think of a twin axle car vs. a 2 wheel inline motor bike. The structural design is what's patented not the vehicles themselves.

    Also keep in mind that some patents can expire giving free roam to the rest of the world to copy.
  6. Jan 25, 2010 #5


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Here's a patent FAQ page at Nolo Press' website. They have very helpful books that they sell, but they also have a lot of basic information available for free on their website:


  7. Jan 27, 2010 #6
    Dear Forummers,

    Thanks for the FAQs and advice.
    Can i know if an invention is for 1 application (eg used in Dentistry), if someone use that for another application (eg. used in fighter plane), is there an infringement ? Can another person patent the 2nd application based on the 1st, legally?

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook