What is an invention?
Patent law protection in developed countries such as France, Germany, and Japan is usually limited to inventions only. The Paris Convention considers patents to be the same as utility models and industrial designs, but it is important to note that patents only refer to invention patents.
Invention patents aim to protect the technical solution offered by an invention, which refers to an idea that uses natural laws to solve a specific technical problem. Therefore, a technical solution can produce specific effects by applying natural laws and forces. However, natural laws themselves are not eligible for patent protection. For example, the buoyancy of an object in water is a natural law that cannot be patented. However, the design of a ship that applies this natural law is a technical solution that can be protected by a patent.
An invention generally consists of several technical features and the relationship between them. To illustrate, the process of making a sword involves several technical steps, including refining iron ore into slags, melting the slags into a steel ingot, and pressing the ingot into a billet. Then, the billet is forged into a steel bar, which is used to create a crude sword that is further sharpened to form the blade. Finally, the blade is engraved with a pattern, polished, and mounted with a handle to produce a finished sword. All of these steps and the order in which they are taken are technical features that cannot be altered without impacting the final product.