Are “innovation” and “invention” the same?
The meaning of innovation has moved a lot in the past few years from the dictionary definition.
Let us start with “invention”. This is defined in contemporary patent law as something not publicly used, unpublished and non-obvious that also fits within an accepted definition of subject matter that can be patented. It is absolute, meaning that if someone else published the same or very similar idea in some obscure part of the world, that obscure publication could still destroy the inventiveness of the patent, even if the inventor had no hope of finding it in his research to develop his invention.
“Innovation”, on the other hand, was previously defined as something new but not necessarily inventive. It has a legal definition in Australia, which has an innovation patent. Recently, its meaning has morphed in popular business culture into a relative definition of what is new and useful to you and your industry. Unlike “invention”, “innovation” no longer requires an absolute comparison with someone else, but instead is reliant on what is an improvement to your own business.
Something that is inventive in absolute terms can be patented. Something that is innovative may be patentable but is less likely to be so.