Patent on Newly Discovered Material

How would an entrepreneur go about patenting a newly discovered material? Say if they were to discover a room temperature superconductor, a discovery that would affect life as we know it.

The first question you must ask is whether this superconductor exists in nature, or whether you had to create a special environment to foster its existence. If you simply dug a hole into the earth and found a new superconductive material, that may not be patentable. However, if you combined known elements x, y, and z to create this superconductor, then nearly everything may be patentable.

For example, there may be some process that you went through to make this discovery – that process may be patentable. There may be some process you went through to have isolated this superconductor from other naturally occurring elements that naturally accompany this semiconductor – that process may be patentable. There may be some environment you have created to foster the discovery of this superconductor – that environment may be patentable.  Essentially, any man-made procedure, device, or system that led up to this discovery may be patentable – and any procedure, device, or system that results from this discovery may be patentable. If by combining elements x, y, and z, you discovered this superconductor, it may even been that you are entitled to a patent on the superconductor itself!

When dealing with matters so interesting, its always best to consult a patent attorney.

If you are interested in more detail related to your situation it is best to speak with an attorney.

Yuri Eliezer heads the intellectual property practice group at Founders Legal. As an entrepreneur who saw the importance of early-stage patent protection, Yuri founded SmartUp®. Clients he has served include Microsoft, Cisco, Cox, AT&T, General Electric, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Coca-Cola.