What cannot be patented?

There is a lot that can be patented. So, here are some examples of what cannot be patented.

According to the Patents Act, an invention cannot only constitute: 

  1. a discovery, scientific theory or mathematical method,
  2. an aesthetic creation,
  3. a scheme, rule or method for performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business, or a computer program,
  4. a presentation of information,
  5. a procedure for surgical or therapeutic treatment, or diagnosis, to be practised on humans or animals. 

Software and business methods

An idea that only constitutes a computer program or a scheme, rule or method for doing business, is not of a technical nature and cannot therefore be patented. However, inventions that are of a technical nature which include a business method, or which are carried out or can be carried out by a computer program, can be patentable. 

Software and business methods


In biotechnology it is possible, for example, to patent genetically modified products, whereas methods of human cloning are regarded as unethical and are therefore not patentable. 

Biotechnology and patents

Medical methods

Devices and products for practising medical methods can be patentable, but the methods themselves are not patentable. This is partly because a patent must not prevent doctors from curing and preventing illnesses and partly because the methods can have different effects on different patients. Therefore, they are not reproducible.

Perpetual motion machines

It is not possible to prove that a perpetual motion machine will work for all eternity, therefore it is not patentable.


It is not possible to get patents for inventions which are contrary to public order or morality.


Imagine that you have invented a bicycle generator. Can you get a patent for your invention? Yes, if your bicycle generator is completely new, meaning not known anywhere in the world.

It must also differ significantly from the generators that are known, and generate electricity every time it is used. Which aspects of your invention can be patentable?

Patentable Non-patentable
A new generator (the technical solution)

The mathematical formula for how the generator produces electricity

Use of the generator on a bicycle A scheme for how to sell the generator
A method of manufacturing the generator  

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Examples of patents