In the magazine Science they (Nenad Bozinovic) are talking about

"Terabit-Scale Orbital Angular Momentum Mode Division Multiplexing in Fibers" Which is another way to multiplex light in fiber optics,

It isn’t difficult to see that what happens in light happens in other electro magnetic waves as well, right?

Would this article make wireless multiplexing schemes patents based on this scheme void (if filed after this date)? or is this kind of symmetries/relationships in physics is not necessary obvious to patent examiners?

to what extent people writing articles should state that their research extends to other other areas (in this case, to wireless transmission) to make clear some of the relationships in physics which might not be obvious to patent examiners.

On the other hand if one found a relationship between light and say biology, that could be made into interesting creative products, but if the relationship is very direct, would it be inventive? or if it was not clear then but it is clear now, would that invalidate the patent in the future?

2 Answers 2


The rules for obviousness say something like 'The person skilled in the art will look in neighbouring fields or other fields if prompted to or can be a group of persons skilled in different arts'. (Thats no citation, but something like that).

What does that mean in practice?

It's actually hard to say. A new use of a known thing can be patentable, but at the same time, something from a neighbouring field can be reused and be prior art.

This actually leads to problems in practice. Sometimes an examiner will find something from another field that totally gets you and destroys your patent - and sometimes they won't. Sometimes you will be able to argue that wouldn't be obvious, and sometimes you won't. Sometimes things like that get a good patent revoked and sometimes a bad patent that merely copies something from another field that could arguably be obvious nevertheless comes through.

But one of your questions can be answered easily - should you state that something is obvious in other fields too when writing about it? -> Yes, if you want to impede others from patenting it in those fields, you should, because then the part where the person skilled in the art got prompted to look at another field or to transfer the knowledge is obviously true and therefore it becomes stronger prior art.

Last but not least, sorry, but that's actually the answer, obviousness is always a topic for arguments, and this makes the case even harder. However, if it is really really obvious, then it's prior art and can impede the granting or get a patent revoked.


Typically what is patented is a specific implementation of machinery, since naturally occurring phenomenon such as light and electromagnetic waves cannot be patented. A specific implementation to harness such phenomenons are however patent-able.

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