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Does it mean that it simply must be able to become patent, and not have a similar patent already filed?

  • There are requirements in general. But for a more thorough answer you should tell us what field of technology you are in. Patent requirements are a little different depending on the tech field - i am a patent attorney – user7875084 Apr 16 '17 at 16:32
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It means the idea has to be new (never published) and inventive (not obvious from the state of the art).

I would expand this further, but there are plenty of websites, articles, books, .. explainign this better than I could. Please look up (above mentioned) requirements for patentability. You could google them or click on the patentability tag and start there.

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In addition to DonQuiKong's answer, the desire for patentability is motivated by the fact that a patent provides a period of exclusivity which may be enormously valuable.

If someone is going to invest significant capital developing a product they want to ensure sufficient payback. A patent provides typically 20 years of protection from the application date.

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