An invention that receives a patent is ‘a high level creation from technical ideas that utilize natural law’. Inventions can be classified into those for articles (including computer programs) and methods. Method inventions include inventions for methods of manufacturing articles and inventions of methods for other uses (Article 2, all items of Paragraph 3, Paragraph 4, of the Japanese Patent Law).
Below are examples of matter that is unpatentable:
- A law of nature: Since an invention must apply natural laws, a natural law itself, such as
the principle of energy conservation, the law of gravity or the like, is
- Articles that are discoveries, and not creations: Originality, which is one requirement of an application to be considered an invention, means that the application must be something that is created or produced. Specifically, naturally occurring substances (like ore) that do not constitute matter that require the inventor to consciously apply technical thought or know-how in order to be produced, or simple discoveries of a natural phenomenon, are not considered to be inventions. However, that does not include chemical substances or microorganisms that have been extracted or separated from natural materials by human intervention. Such articles do fall under the concept of an invention.
- Articles that violate the laws of nature: An application that claims a means to violates a law of nature, such as the second law of thermodynamics (for example, a perpetual motion machine) is not considered to be an invention.
- Inventions that do not apply a law of nature: Claims that contain rules that are not laws of nature (for example: economic rules), man-made rules (such as the rules of a game or the like), equations for mathematics or human psychological processes, or claims that use these rules (such as methods for conducting business), do not apply a law of nature. Therefore, such claims are not considered to be allowable as an invention.
- Articles that are not technical ideas: For example, a skill is not an invention. (More specifically, a method for throwing a fork-ball that uses a special technique of holding and of throwing the ball is not an invention.)