What kind of inventions can be patented?

To be patentable, an invention must

  • be new
  • involve an inventive step
  • be industrially applicable.

Novelty

An invention must be new in relation to what was public knowledge before the date of filing your patent application. A patent is not granted if your invention represents old, previously known technology. We advise you not to disclose your invention publicly before filing a patent application, as revealing the invention – even by the inventor – makes it prior art.

Inventive step

Your invention must involve an inventive step to be judged substantially different from all that was public knowledge before the filing date of the application. The difference is not allowed to be so trivial that the invention is obvious to a person skilled in the art.

Industrial applicability

Patentable inventions must be technological in nature, and they must solve a technical problem. The subject matter may be a process, method, device, product, or a new way to use existing ones. Consequently, an idea or a theory alone cannot be patented. The description of the invention in the patent application must include adequate information for a person skilled in the art in the relevant technical field to carry out the invention. The invention, i.e. the technical solution, must also be repeatable. The word “industrial" should be given a wide meaning: besides regular industrial fields, it includes fields such as trade, horticulture and fishing.

The following, as such, are not regarded as inventions:

  • discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods
  • aesthetic creations
  • schemes, rules and methods for performing mental acts, playing games or doing business
  • programs for computers, or presentations of information
  • methods for surgical or therapeutic treatment or diagnostic methods, practiced on humans or animals.

None of the above can be patented, but related inventions can, if the invention is technological in nature.

More information:

Patent guide in Finnish: Patenttiopas.pdf (pdf, 2.95 Mb)

Our patent manual in Finnish: Patenttikasikirja_2017.pdf (pdf, 2.69 Mb)

Finnish patent legislation

Printable version
Latest update 08.06.2017