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While researching the prior art, I found a patent filed by a large corporation and at the end of the description they say something like "an accelerometer or other sensor can be added". My idea uses an accelerometer (like the one found in almost all smartphones today). Does this affects my claim of novelty (given that whe accelerometer is just a small part of the concept)?

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Yes it does - for that small part is not novel anymore. As long as the rest of the invention is novel and inventive, you are fine though. For a claim to get granted the whole claimed invention has to be inventive, not every part of it.

Example: you could patent a whole airplane with fins instead of wheels (if not known yet) even though an airplane is known and fins are known, but the combination as such is not.


Edit:

Concerning the comment about the accelerometer:

A claim normally consists of two parts (actually, there is the so called two-part-form for this, don't worry, you only have to use it if the examiner requests it) the known (= prior art) part and the inventive part that distinguishes the invention from the prior art.

Let's say your invention is

A smartphone with a display and a cpu and a gpu and bluetooth comprising (this part is prior art, it's known, the following is not known in connection with the former smartphone)

  • an accelerometer
  • a bluetooth connected temperature sensor
  • the combination used to algorithmically compute the temperature of the sun.

Now you realize that actually smartphones with accelerometers are normally used to compute the temperature of the sun, combined with different other means, but the temperature sensor connected over bluetooth hasn't been described and using it is inventive as the prior art doesn't hint towards it nor it is obvious.

Your claim stays the same, but in the two part form it would be

A smartphone with a display and a cpu and a gpu and bluetooth with an accelerometer used to calculate the temperature of the sun by

  • algorhitmically including the sensed values from a temperature sensor connected over bluetooth.

For the claim to get granted, it has to be novel and inventive over the prior art. As you see, different prior art just changes the way of assessing the claim, but as long as it stays inventive, you can add as much known stuff as you want or see fit.

  • Thanks for the answer. The problem is both the patent and my idea are about devices that do the same function and both use accelerometers. But if I understood you correctly, if I don't list the accelerometer part as a cliam then I should be fine, right? – Haider Feb 7 '17 at 9:14
  • @Haider Not quite. You say your idea uses an accelerometer. So the accelerometer is an essential feature of your invention (in the sense that your invention wouldn't work without one). So the accelerometer must be recited in your independent claim(s). What DonQuiKong says is that it does not matter that the accelerometer is known by itself, as long as your claimed invention as a whole is novel and inventive. – Alexandre Flak Feb 7 '17 at 15:31
  • No, I amended my answer to clarify it. However, I feel I should ask this .. Are you sure you want to write your patent without a patent attorney? It's not that easy and there are many more traps like this, hidden very well and hard to even recognize. Your question shows a lack of understanding about the basic concept behind patentability, which is nothing bad, unless you are writing a patent. It's the main reason patent attorneys spent years learning this. I know they cost money, but hey, everything does, from R&D over production to marketing, and you wouldn't build an airplane, would you? – DonQuiKong Feb 7 '17 at 16:52
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    I have more than 80 patents and I am still amazed at the seemingly odd construction of claims by patent attorneys. The reasons are usually because of legal precedent and making the claims strong enough to use. As experienced as I am, I wouldn't dream of drafting my own patent, let alone the claims. – Eric Shain Feb 7 '17 at 18:04
  • @DonQuiKong neat edit, your answer is easier to understand now. – Alexandre Flak Feb 7 '17 at 20:09

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