Novelty is the concept that the information being patented is new and not known to the public before the filing date of the patent application. Because a patent grants the invention a monopoly over their invention for a period of 20 years, the USPTO wants to ensure that the invention is not known in the public domain and would, therefore, prevent others from doing what they were previously free to do.

Essentially, the invention being patented must differ in some non-obvious way from the prior art. Generally, this means that the invention has:

  • Not been shown to others, including friends and family;
  • Not been published;
  • Not considered common knowledge within the field of the invention; or
  • Not the subject of or disclosed within another published patent or patent application.