“Point of novelty” refers to the features of the product or process which is different from the current state of the art (i.e., prior art). It goes further than just identifying the new aspect of the invention. Rather, point of novelty refers to the new functional feature believed to be patentable and worthy of the time and costs to obtain a patent. For example, each year a car manufacturer will introduce new colors to their car lineup. The colors are novel but not functional in nature. Thus, the colors are not the point of novelty.
What types of features qualify as a point of novelty?
A new design constraint of the product that produces a benefit unachievable by the prior art is a point of novelty. The design constraint is described in terms of an engineering principle that achieves the benefit or solution provided by the invention.
What is the purpose of identifying the point of novelty?
The purpose of identifying the point of novelty of an invention is a useful tool in describing what the invention truly is. It isn’t just a new hat. Rather, the invention is a reflective hat or a hat that reroutes sweat so that it doesn’t get into your eyes (sweat control hat). Properly identifying the point of novelty also helps in writing the patent application. The invention may be a hat. But, the bulk of the discussion in the patent application should be around the point of novelty. For example, if the point of novelty is in the reflective threads used in making the hat, the patent application does not need to focus on any flexible washable sheet in the bill of the hat. That is unrelated to the reflectivity of the hat.
How do patent examiners and the courts use the point of novelty?
The courts have made clear that the patentability of an invention cannot be described in terms of its point of novelty. Rather, the patentability of an invention must be viewed as a whole. Nevertheless, thinking about the invention in terms of the point of novelty is useful in crafting a strategy for writing the patent application and claims.
How does the point of novelty relate to the nonobviousness requirement?
The point of novelty refers to those features which are believed to be patentable. As such, by extension, patent attorneys imply that a point of novelty may be nonobvious.