If you are an inventor or innovator and believe that you have come up with a new invention, the most important step that you can take is to legally protect your intellectual property with a patent. Unfortunately, the patent application process can be extremely complicated and time-consuming, especially if you are unfamiliar with dealing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office
. However, if you are familiar with dealing with the USPTO, it is likely that you already understand why a patent attorney in Boca Raton will be a major advantage for you. Read more below about the patent application process in the United States, and contact The Patent Professor
today to begin taking the right steps towards protecting your ideas and building a legal platform that you can capitalize off of. If you ignore the importance of patents, then you will be leaving your product or idea open to replication from anyone who chooses to utilize your idea, and you will have no legal rights.
Should I File a Patent?
There are a lot of different factors that go into determining whether or not you should file a patent, but there are a few basic things that you must be able to answer before moving forward. If you are uncertain of how your idea fits into these questions, contact us immediately to speak with an experienced professional about your likelihood of a successful application, and whether or not you should consider moving forward with your application at all. In order for a patent to be approved, it must first meet these following requirements:
- The invention must be non-obvious: this means that it can not be a simple and obvious upgrade to an existing item or technology.
- It must be useful: if the invention is useless, then these applications would slow down the USPTO and would overflow the market with pointless legal protections.
- It must be unique: If your idea already exists, then you will not be able to get a patent for it. One of the main reasons for patent protection is to encourage innovation.
Before moving forward with a patent application, we will explore these questions with you, and then carry out extensive research into the existing patent database
before we recommend that you proceed. The preliminary database research can be tedious, but is an extremely important step to ensure that your time and money is not wasted attempting to patent something that either already exists, or will be rejected because of reasons that would have been uncovered during this process.
Types of Patents in the United States
Patents are broken out into three major categories, although each category is then broken into many subdivisions as a way to organize and catalog each innovation that the USPTO processes and approves. Patents most-often have a term of 20 years in which the patent holder can enjoy unrestricted protections, at which point they may be able to file for an extension, or the patent expires.
A utility patent is the most common patent application that the USPTO receives, and it covers a variety of inventions and innovations. A “utility,” in the context of patents, is a machine, process, compound, or anything else that is useful, functional, and not a plant. This could be applied to something like a step-by-step process to assemble something, a novel chemical compound, or a machine that achieves an outcome in a unique way. Even if the outcome of the process is something that already exists, the process may be the novel step that deserves protection.
A design patent is issued in order to protect the unique appearance
of a product. The appearance, or design, must not serve a function — it can simply be aesthetic. If the appearance has an actual function in addition to the appearance, then we may either need to apply for a utility patent instead of a design patent, or apply to both in order to cover all unique details of the invention. A design patent protects inventors and innovators from having the appearance of their product imitated, which would allow competitors to use existing brand recognition as a way to sell their possibly inferior products. Design patents have a 15-year term.
A plant patent is granted to new plants (excluding tubers) that are able to be reproduced by asexual methods. This means that the patented plant must not be grown from seed, pod, or another natural method. One example of an asexual method that an inventor may be able to produce their patentable plant is through grafting
Provisional Applications for Patents
If you do not have all of the required information to submit a complete patent application, but we have determined that your invention does qualify for individual legal protection, then we may suggest that we initially file a provisional application. With this provisional application, we will be able to put some limited rights in place to protect your ideas while we are working on finalizing your application and gathering all necessary documentation and information to ensure that we are given a full patent. You will be able to label your product as “Patent Pending
.” If, however, you file a provisional application but fail to file a complete application within 12 months, your invention will be ineligible for a complete patent.
How To Begin Protecting Your Innovations
The first step towards protecting your intellectual property is to contact The Patent Professor as soon as possible. We will be able to discuss your ideas with you, and explain our process in greater detail as it pertains to your own situation. We will be able to research existing patents immediately and return with a recommendation on how best to proceed with protecting your innovation. It is most helpful if you are able to compile all relevant information to present to us as soon as possible so that we can have a full picture of your situation and a greater understanding of how best to proceed with your ideas. The patent application process is long and complicated, but our experience will be an enormous asset to you as you begin to work towards the legal protection that you deserve so that you can focus on capitalizing on your ideas without unnecessary competition in the form of knock-off products and replicants in the market.