What is the inventiveness requirement for patents?
Initially, the patent system only demanded that an idea be new in order to be patented. However, it was later discovered that having novelty alone was insufficient. Even if an invention were novel, it would not be appropriate to grant it a patent if it only had a few improvements or lacked technical merit. As a result, a higher standard of inventiveness, or non-obviousness, was introduced to evaluate the technical merit of an invention. To evaluate whether a patent application has inventiveness, also known as an "inventive step," the following analysis must be undertaken: (1) find a technical solution that is closest to the application for comparison; (2) identify the differences between the two technical solutions; and (3) assess whether the differences are easy to discover. The last step is the most subjective, as no two individuals will provide the same assessment. As a result, certain specific regulations have been developed to decrease such subjectivity, although these rules vary by country. Another approach to expressing this patentability requirement is to state that the invention will meet the inventiveness threshold if it would not have been evident to a "person skilled in the art," who is essentially an expert in that technical field. From a different perspective, the inventiveness requirement is a significant policy tool. If one wishes to raise the threshold of patentability, raising the inventiveness standard reasonably is an effective approach.