What Are Inventions?


Inventors generally divide inventions into two broad categories-the Classifications of Inventions and the Application of Inventions. Both of these divisions are important to understand the uniqueness of each invention. In this article I focus on identifying first the distinctions between the two broad classifications.

An invention is a specific or novel device, technique, composition or procedure. The invention procedure is an overall process in an inventive development process and thus it can be an advance modification of an existing product or an innovative process for producing an original object or a useful result. Moreover, in some cases, an invention requires further steps such as filing the patent with the U.S. Patent Office and paying applicable taxes. These additional steps are what distinguish inventions from innovations. For instance, a chemical transformation only needs to be completed one time to obtain protection, while a food combination requires the invention to occur multiple times (application) before the food combination is protected under the patent.

In contrast, an innovation is an unanticipated creation, or change in an existing product, process, design or structure. Often, there is no need to go through the steps required for the classification of an invention. Instead, new products, processes, designs and structures are released into the market with little or no modification needed by the original product or inventor. Thus, if an invention involves new processes, it is not an innovation. Similarly, if an invention involves changes in an existing product, it can be classified as an innovation, even though the product itself may have been in existence for decades or centuries. Also, if an invention involves using a machine rather than human intervention, it is clear that the invention should be regarded as an innovation.

There are many patents issued each year based on inventions. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office publish all patent applications in an online directory. By comparing these applications and picking one that seems to be relevant, a patent specialist will assign an allowance to the inventor. The allowance is for an amount of damages, expenses or time spent developing the invention. Thus, if you want to make life easier, you might want to look into an invention.

The difficulty in deciding whether an invention is an invention or whether it is simply a novelty arises from the fact that, as previously mentioned, there are many inventions that have been created but have never been patented. One way to avoid this problem is to pick an idea and determine whether there have been prior inventions to make it comparable. If there have been prior inventions, the inventors will likely have already patented their idea.


Inventions are often crucial to society. They transform previously existing goods or processes into products that can help make life easier, more convenient, safer and affordable. Hot water heaters are one example of these goods that have been around for centuries. When someone thinks of hot water heaters, they almost always think of a bottle of it sitting under a faucet in a home or office. While this is an example of an invention, it is also an example of how an idea can take on multiple forms.