The Patent Professor has over 20 years of experience with helping clients navigate the complicated patent application process. If you are considering filing a patent and need the help of a patent attorney in Florida, contact us today to begin the process. The United States Patent and Trademark Office can be opaque, and applying through them can sometimes be overwhelming. Oftentimes, applications for perfectly legitimate inventions are rejected due to procedural errors, omitted information, or incomplete forms. Let our experience take the guesswork out of your application, and quickly move you closer to success.
What Is a Patent?
Patents are legal devices designed to protect inventors from having their unique inventions replicated in the market for a certain period of time. With the help of a patent, an inventor is able to use this time to improve their invention, market it, and retain all rights to the sales and/or licensing of the product. Patents are meant to encourage innovation by granting peace of mind for a person to bring their product into production without fear of knock-offs diluting the market, or major companies ripping off their ideas and implementing them without authorization. Patents require significant vetting before being issued, to ensure that any new patent written does not impede the operation of any existing patent, or obstruct from anything within the public domain. Inventions must be determined to be uncommon, novel, and not obvious, as well as entirely new. If an invention meets these (and additional) requirements, the patent is issued for a set term. Read more about each patent type below:
Utility patents are issued for any new invention based on function or usefulness. A “utility” could refer to a machine, a process, a chemical compound, or anything else that is not a plant and does not simply refer to the appearance of the item. In any instance of a utility, the invention must be novel, nonobvious (it can not be something that is commonly used but simply not patented), and can not be a slight alteration to an existing utility that does not create an entirely new use. For example, an entirely new toothbrush could be eligible for a utility patent, but simply brushing your teeth with a certain process using an existing toothbrush is not eligible.
Design patents are different from utility patents in that they only address the appearance of something. If a design influences the usage of the item at all, it likely requires a utility patent (or a combination of both). Design patents could cover package design, color combinations, non-structural appearances, or anything else that is a fully-unique design. Design patents are different from trademarks or copyrights in that the design patent covers any appearance of a useful item, whereas a trademark refers to words, names, symbols or devices, and a copyright protects works of authorship. A well-known design patent is the one that Apple has for the iPad. Other companies are allowed to create tablets, but are strictly prohibited from recreating the physical appearance of an iPad. Design patents carry 14-year terms that begin at the date of issue.
The third patent issued is a plant patent. This patent covers any plant (other than tubers) that is produced asexually from a hybridization method, and is additionally determined to be unique. One form of hybridization that is acceptable for this patent is grafting, a process of combining two different plants by physically combining them. If a plant is grown from a seed or other natural ways, it is not eligible for a patent because it is shown to be produced by natural means. Plant patents, like utility patents, have 20-year terms.
Provisional Application for Patent
If you have determined that you have a unique, non-obvious, useful invention, design, or plant, but do not have all of the required details for a patent, you may file a provisional application for a patent. This gives the filer limited rights and a 12-month term that offer some protections, but is generally used as a placeholder. During this time, a product is considered “patent pending.” If the provisional application expires but a complete patent application has not been submitted, the applicant will be ineligible for a full patent.
Should I File For a Patent?
There are a variety of requirements for a patent application to be considered, but if you believe that you have a unique and useful invention, plant, or design, consult with the Patent Professor to determine the appropriate next steps. A patent is intended to protect inventors from having their intellectual property stolen or replicated while they attempt to capitalize on their invention, and is a very important tool for progress in the modern world. Without this protection, individuals or companies would have no incentive to advance their work for fear of a competitor simply copying the invention and selling it themselves. Your intellectual property deserves to be protected so that you may develop and capitalize on it as you see fit.
How Can The Patent Professor Help Me?
If you are planning or considering to file for a patent in Florida, the Patent Professor is here to guide you through every step of the process. The USPTO can be an opaque agency to deal with, and many times applications are rejected simply because of procedural or filing errors. The Patent Professor has over 20 years of experience with successful patent applications, and will be happy to help you through your process as well. The USPTO does not guide applicants through the process, meaning that if you are unfamiliar with patent applications, it may be hard to determine which next steps are required of you to complete your submission. Filing for a patent requires extensive documentation, forms, information, and details that we will be sure are included before you submit. Consult with the Patent Professor today to determine the appropriate steps towards a successful utility, design, or plant patent application.