My invention is just a collection of known parts. Does that mean it is not new?

This is a question that I often hear from new clients.  The short answer is “No”; it emphatically does not.  Nor does it mean that the idea is unpatentable – the two are of course different questions.

An invention is not new if there has been a prior disclosure that includes each and every feature of the invention.  So even if each individual part of the invention has been disclosed in different places, the whole collection can still be “new”, at least as defined in patent law. 

To be patentable, the invention must also be non-obvious.  If the invention is just a collection of known things that sit alongside each other and don’t really interact to create something new, then there is likely to be a strong objection that the invention is obvious.  However, if the arrangement creates a new result, some kind of new product that does something that previous products did not do, then it is unlikely to be obvious and should be patentable.

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