I'm using a so-called cantenna (antenna made of a used can) as an example.

Suppose there's no evidence that anyone has tried a cantenna but antennas of similar design, just made of other materials, are well known. That "similar design" is also not protected by patents at this moment. Then at some point I discover that prefabricated used cans and other similar used packaging materials can be used to easily craft an antenna (reproduce the well known design) and it's usable as an antenna (practical). So basically the invention formula is "an antenna produced from used packaging materials by transforming them in such and such ways".

This method is cool for crafting an improvised device for fun or when you need such device for some lab research ASAP. However this way of manufacturing is not appealing for commercial applications - if one decided to make money on producing antennas he would likely use stock materials, not used package.

Can an improvised device made of used packaging materials (such as cantenna)be patented?

1 Answer 1


To obtain a patent, an invention needs to be useful, novel and non-obvious to a person skilled in the technical area. To me, your description doesn't meet the non-obviousness requirement since you are reproducing a well known design. Likewise repurposing used materials isn't by itself novel. That said, there is nothing I can think of that precludes obtaining a patent just because you are repurposing used materials.

More to the point, if there is no financial incentive, then I find it hard to understand why you would want to invest the time and money to obtain a patent. It might be better to just publish on the internet your clever idea and gain some fame, if not fortune, that way.

  • Obtaining a patent looks really cool - ur an inventor, that's recognized by the government, ur patent papers are stored in the patent office forever and also published on the Internet and that doesn't prevent you from seeking fame elsewhere and posting your cool design here and there.
    – sharptooth
    Aug 8, 2019 at 8:23
  • 1
    @sharptooth Perhaps, but it costs thousands to get a patent. I have 40 US patents and I can assure you it hasn’t made me “cool”.
    – Eric S
    Aug 8, 2019 at 13:32

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