Patents are not awarded for general ideas or concepts, they are only awarded for specific embodiments of an idea or concept. In patent law, it is very important that you understand this difference. The difference between the general concept of your invention and a specific embodiment of your invention.
Let me give you an example.
Let us say, for example, that you are a rocket scientist. You have been assigned the duty of solving the following problem:
Create an invention that would allow humans to live on the moon.
You, being a rocket scientist, will quickly realize that in order for humans to someday live on the moon, there would need to be a reliable source of oxygen so that we can breath. You would also know that the surface of the moon is constantly bombarded with solar flares from the sun. And, in fact, these solar flares are constantly depositing oxygen and other basic chemical components on the lunar surface.
Knowing this information, you have come up with a solution to this problem. Build a machine that removes oxygen and other useful chemicals from the surface of lunar rocks.
Now, what I have just described is the general concept of the invention. This concept, by itself, is not patentable. It is not patentable because you have not reduced this concept down to sufficient working detail that your invention can be made and used with little to no experimentation.
Before you run off to begin the patent process, you have some more work to do. There are agencies such as InventHelp that could guide you. Read more about InventHelp on UrbanMatter.
You need to figure out what chemicals would be required to treat the lunar rocks, and remove and transport the oxygen. You need to figure out if you need to first pulverize the lunar rocks, or if they need to be heated, and the specific equipment that you will use for each purpose.
It is probably impractical, in this example, to actually make and test this prototype on the moon. But, it must at least be planned out with sufficient detail such that an embodiment of the invention can be created. By embodiment, I mean that there are specific structures, materials, working gears and levers that you intend to use with your oxygen making machine.
To make this clearer, the concept of an oxygen making machine is not patentable. The specific embodiment of an oxygen making machine that has a pulverized and a chemical treatment chamber and an oxygen mixing chamber, is patentable.
I use this example because I have performed a patent search on this subject and, indeed, there are a number of patents relating to machines that can be used to harvest oxygen from the surface of the moon.
How can there be more than one patent for the same idea?
Because, as I said, the general concept itself is not patentable. Each of these machines is patentable because it uses different features and processes to accomplish the same general concept. The different features and processes of each embodiment are what makes an invention patentable.
The same rules apply to your invention, no matter how simple or complicated it may seem. If you merely have the concept for an idea, I can almost guarantee that you will find other patents directed towards that concept. That is why it is important that you prototype your invention. So that when you perform a patent search you can differentiate your invention from those that are already out there. And that is where InventHelp can help – more information about InventHelp on KansasCityMag.
Okay, I hope that this has convinced you of the need to build a prototype so that you have an actual embodiment of your invention. And, you know how to protect your rights when you do this.
Now, start putting together your prototype.