The patent system is designed to encourage innovation by rewarding those that innovate. It does so by giving the inventor a temporary monopoly over his creation. By definition, an old idea is not an innovation. As such, it’s not eligible for a patent.
What counts as old? Once an idea is out in the public, it’s no longer considered new and no one can claim it as their own innovation.
This includes actual products, as well as information contained in TV, advertising, books, journals, newspaper articles, patents, and substantially any other publicly available source.
Thus, it doesn’t matter whether an idea was ever previously patented. If the idea was publicly known, it is not patentable by you or anyone else. The cat’s already out of the bag.
On the other hand, inventors often devise some new twist to an old idea, and that extra little bit is what results in a successful product in the marketplace. In those instances, the new twist can be patented.
If you have any questions, contact us at Fish IP Law.com