Q: Good day! What are the specifics of psychology medical practice methods patenting? Are they patentable at all?

2 Lawyer Answers
Griffin Klema
Griffin Klema
Answered
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Tampa, FL

A: Short answer: Maybe.

Long answer: Generally speaking methods of providing a therapy are patentable, but it is hard to get into the any specifics without some factual context for your case (and I recommend against seeking same in a public forum). All patents are subject to the statutory requirements, including novelty (102), obviousness, (103), and subject matter eligibility (101). The Alice v. CLS Bank case may or may not limit the patentability of a "psychology medical practice" method. If you're interested in getting a more concrete answer to your case that evaluates the precise facts of what you may have, I recommend getting a patentability assessment (also called a novelty opinion) from a registered patent attorney. Expect to budget approximately $2,000 for that work. Or if you're trying to defeat/evaluate someone else's patent, consider getting a freedom to operate opinion (about $5,000, but could be more depending on the complexity of the patent and scope of the prior art).

Good luck!

Peter D. Mlynek
Peter D. Mlynek
Answered
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Moorestown, NJ

A: Methods of medical treatment are patentable. In some countries it is not easy to get a patent to a method of treatment, in the US you should be able to patent it. I have written and prosecuted a number of medical treatment patents.

With respect to psychological medical practice as opposed to other medical practice, you are facing two hurdles. Firstly, I really would like to see some good data on the method that you want to patent. Psychology is more stochastic than other medical fields. The requirements for demonstrating treatment efficacy at the Patent Office are much lower than such requirements for the FDA or for getting new reimbursement codes, but you will need some solid data. Getting a patent on a medical treatment is hard enough, and it should not be rejected due to lack of data.

Secondly, you need to consider enforceability of the patent. If you are going to spend the money on a patent, you need to make sure that you will be able to enforce it -- if a competitor will use your patented method to treat patients, and you can't stop your competitor because you won't know about the methods that your competitor uses, then the patent is not going to do a whole lot of good to you. If a medical treatment calls for the use of some sort of a unique medical device, or a drug, or a computer program, etc., then it is easier to find out that the competitor is using such a treatment. But if the treatment calls for a series of mental steps or can be performed with everyday tools that a psychologist regularly uses, then it will be harder for you to know about it and enforce your patent against the competitor using it without your permission.

There are other concerns, such as patent eligibility (you can't get a patent on just a series of mental steps), novelty (you can't get a patent on something that is already known), or obviousness (you can't get a patent if you just select steps from two therapies and combine them), etc., but that is for your patent attorney to worry about.

Good luck, and let me know if you need help on this.

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