Can relatively know design/graphics algorithm be patented if applied to a new device type?

for example, let's say this is year 200x and someone wants to patent interactive maps and navigation on a smartphone, something that were previously available only on PCs or web browsers. So the innovation would be the combination of software algorithms and hardware.

Is this patentable? only if non trivial? or? The technical challenges in this case might be relevant but not necessarily novel

2 Answers 2


The question is whether the new application of an existing technology would be obvious to someone skilled in the field. For the example cited, I would tend to believe the application of an existing interactive map technology to a smartphone to be obvious. A smartphone essentially contains a handheld computer.

However, if a new, and unanticipated feature resulted from the application of an existing technology then the new feature might be patentable. So, for instance, since the smartphone has a GPS and is physically present, you might be able to leverage that capability to allow a new feature such as warning the user that they are exceeding the speed limit that wouldn't be possible otherwise.


A patentable innovation might come from details of how you do it, rather than the same external behavior on a new device.

Assuming the phone (watch?) had significantly less resources than the laptop, new techniques might be needed to implement the behavior.

Or, as in Eric’s answer, the new device has additional hardware capabilities. They might be cleverly used to create a different implementation of the same features.

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