To get a patent, your invention or discovery must meet certain requirements before the Patent and Trademark office will grant a patent. For a utility patent (the most common type of patent), the invention must be either: a process or method for producing a “useful, concrete, and tangible result”; a machine; an article of manufacture; a composition of matter; or an improvement of an invention that fits into one of the above categories.
In addition to falling within one of the above categories, the invention must also have some utility or usefulness, be novel or different from something else in an important way, and be nonobvious to someone who understands the technical field of invention.
For design patents, the invention must be novel, nonobvious, and nonfunctional. For a plant patent, the plant must be novel and nonobvious to qualify for a patent.