It is impossible to give a precise definition of what constitutes a patentable invention, since the answer depends upon many factors. The final determination of patentability is made by the Patent Office in the country you are seeking a patent. Under Michigan Tech's Patent, Research, and Other Proprietary Rights Policy, employees are required to disclose ideas for new technologies they believe might be patentable. IIE office staff and retained legal counsel consider patentability and the commercialization objectives of the inventors in developing a strategy for more steps which could include going back to the lab or seeking licensees immediately.
The basic requirements for patentability include the following:
Novel: The object of the patent must be new and not published, previously available for purchase, or available to the public in any way.
Non-Obvious: The invention must not be obvious to those "skilled in the art".
Useful: The invention must satisfy some productive purpose.
If you believe you have an invention that meets these criteria, complete an invention disclosure form as soon as possible to begin the process of evaluation, protection, and licensing of your invention.