A patent can be a hard document to obtain. It can take a couple of years to be awarded a patent and the process is not an easy one. You will end up paying a good amount of money for the application and you will have to pay maintenance fees each year. However, once you have it, the rewards can be vast. A well-researched and useful patented invention can continue to generate revenue for many years. One of the most famous examples of this concept is Amazon’s brilliant one click feature, which generated millions of impulse buys for the company itself. Amazon made millions of dollars from this very simple idea until the patent expired in 2011, at which point, other companies began to use this technology.

Types of Patents

Utility Patent

A utility patent is the most common type of patent and it is awarded to inventions that are useful and have been proven to work. The invention must have a specific use and function. You may not patent an idea and your concept may not be an obvious one. Most utility patents are good for 20 years. Unfortunately, if you want the patent to be enforceable, you may have to pay periodic fees. New nventors should know that after 20 years, their patent will expire and anyone can manufacture and sell their product. It takes an actual act of Congress to fully renew a patent. There are some situations in which you can apply for an extension, but it is rare that one will be granted.

Plant Patent

A plant patent is given to a botanist or horticulturist who genetically engineers a plant that may be asexually reproduced. When a scientist engineers a new seed, it can be very lucrative and/or very controversial. You will have to prove that your plant is useful, just as you would with a utility patent. Like a utility patent, a plant patent is good for 20 years. You will, however, have to pay maintenance fees. This is the least common kind of patent. In some cases, a person applying for a plant patent may also want to get a design patent if the plant is decorative or has a unique shape that is part of its value

Design Patent

A design patent is granted for unique design. It is intended to protect the appearance of a product rather than its functionality. If the design of a product contributes to its functionality, then the inventor must apply for a utility patent. Design patents last for 14 years. You will never have to pay a maintenance fee on a design patent. Some famous designs include the Statue of Liberty, the Slinky, and the game of Monopoly.

Trade Secret

Unlike a patent, a trade secret never expires. A trade secret is defined as an idea that must be kept confidential by everyone who knows that secret. Trade secrets apply mainly to formulas and methods for getting work accomplished. Well known examples of trade secrets include the recipe for Coca Cola and the formula for Listerine. Coca Cola registered its recipe for its soda as a trade secret rather than patenting it because a patent would have made the ingredients a matter of public record. Listerine’s trade secret did not expire, even after all of its ingredients were revealed. We all rely on Google to settle arguments and quench our thirst for knowledge about any number of subjects. The Google algorithm is one of the world’s most famous and best kept trade secrets. The algorithm changes often and determines the order in which companies, people, and facts appear when you do a Google search. Had the company used a traditional patent for its algorithm, the calculation process would be public information and things like keywords would not be nearly as valuable. Before you think about how long your patent will last, you must begin the long and arduous process of getting a patent started. You will need to thoroughly research your product and document all of your research completely. You want to document all of your trials and errors and build a solid prototype of your product. Most importantly, you want to find an attorney who can help you every step of the way. The legal team at the Patent Professor can help inventors in Florida realize their dreams and get their products on the market.

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