Most inventors realize the importance of patents. However, there are many misunderstandings about patents and the patent process. Fortunately, this FAQ for a patent in Fort Lauderdale can help you learn more about getting protection for your invention. If you still have other questions, you can contact the Patent Professor for more information. Our firm can assist you with all of your patent needs.

What is a Patent?

A patent is a grant that prohibits someone else from making, using, or selling your invention. Issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the grant is only valid in this country. Once you have a patent, you can take legal action to force another party from profiting from your invention.

What Are the Types of Patents?

Anyone who has a new invention can apply for a patent. As long as you invented a new product or service, you can apply for one. There are several types of patents, and each one is for a specific product or service. It’s important to note that you can’t patent everything. If a process is strictly mental, you can’t patent it. You also can’t apply for a patent for a formula that has no impact on the real world. Things that occur naturally are not capable of obtaining protection, because they are not inventions. That leaves room for many other patentable inventions. Here are the three types of patents and the inventions they can protect:

Utility Patents

These are for new machines, products, methods, or chemicals. If the product already exists, you can seek a patent for a new improvement on it.

Design Patents

With these patents, you can protect the appearance of an object. However, the protection does not extend to the use or function of the object. It is strictly for an object’s appearance.

Plant Patents

If you create a new type of plant, you can seek a plant patent. These patents are highly specific and somewhat rare.

How Long Does a Patent Last?

Patents only last for a certain period of time. For most utility and plant patents, you have 20 years of protection. Meanwhile, design patents come with 14 or 15 years of protection, depending on when you filed. The protection starts on the date the office issues you the patent. However, the patent clock starts ticking on the date on which you filed your application. Once your patent expires, you have no more protection. Anyone can use, sell, or make your invention. And you have no option to renew it. After the expiration of the patent, it becomes public property. The only exception is for those who seek to extend their patents. In rare cases, inventors can have the government extend their patents because of government delays. For example, a new drug could hit the market late due to FDA testing. The government might issue an extension due to the delay.

What are the Requirements for a Patent?

There are three basic patent requirements. As long as your patent has these traits, you should be capable of receiving a patent:

1. The Invention is New

Although an invention might be new to you, it may not be new to others. For you to receive a patent, there must be no record of it being patented in the past. To determine this, you need to do a patent search. The Patent Office has records of all the past and current patents. However, searching for a similar patent is time-consuming and challenging.

2. The Invention is Useful

You can’t patent an invention that doesn’t have a use or purpose. It needs to do something, and that’s an easy requirement to meet. Typically, the only inventions considered non-useful are gene sequences or chemical compounds that have no use. “Useful” does not require a product to be marketable. The USPTO will not deny your application because of commercial reasons. As long as the product has some type of use, the office will overlook the fact that it has no commercial value.

3. The Invention is Non-Obvious

Typically, this is considered the most complicated requirement for patents. If an invention is obvious, you can’t patent it. The average person in your field must not be able to develop the same invention with ease.

What is the Patent Process?

If you want your patent application to be successful, you need to follow the process. First, you need to do a patent search. You must look for similar patents in the patent registry. If you come across any similar patents, you will not have a successful application. Once you complete the search, you need to fill out the application. In the application, you must provide a thorough overview of your invention. This includes explaining how it works, why it is useful, and what the invention looks like. Immediately after you file the patent, your invention is in patent pending status. The patent office will not allow anyone to view your application for 18 months. While it’s in their hands, they will review the paperwork. If the examiner chooses to deny your patent, you will receive a notice. There are several types of rejections, including rejections for wrong wording, rejections for obviousness and rejections for lack of novelty. At times, you can make changes to the application that will change the examiner’s decision. For example, you could fix your application to make it more accurate. In this case, the examiner could choose to approve the application. You cannot add any new material to the application unless you file a certain paper and begin the process again. There is a fee for your patent. Once you are approved, you need to pay the fee. Only then do you have a full patent.

Working with a Patent Attorney

In Broward County, there are two major annual events for small businesses and entrepreneurs. The city is a great place for inventors and those looking to start their own business. In 2012, there were $4,045,258,000 total retail sales in the city. If you’re an inventor, the local economy makes it easier to be successful. Working with a patent attorney in Fort Lauderdale can also improve your chances at success. The Patent Professor can take you through the application process. If your invention meets the requirements for a patent, our firm can work towards making your patent become a reality.

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