Do you believe that you have come up with a new and innovative idea that needs to be protected by legal methods? If you believe that your idea is unique and valuable in any way, you should immediately look into your options for patent protection. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has a rigorous application process that gives inventors and innovators a legal tool to protect their intellectual property from competition for a certain period of time, during which they can focus on building their business and capitalizing on their ideas. Unless you plan to release your innovation as open source, you should act immediately to begin the application process. Read more about how The Patent Professor can help you through these steps below, and contact us now to get started on your application with a patent professor in Jacksonville.

Should I File a Patent?

If you are not distributing your invention as an open source innovation, then it is probably important that you work towards patenting your work. In order to determine if you should proceed, ask yourselves these three questions to start:
  • Is your idea novel? The USPTO defines novelty as something new, that has not existed previously. Applications for patents on ideas that already exist will be denied.
  • Is your idea useful? If your invention is novel, but does not have an actual use, there is no reason for the USPTO to approve your application, as it does not serve any use.
  • Is the idea non-obvious? This question is essentially asking if you are only making a minor, and obvious change to an existing idea, or if you are making a significant difference. Minor changes will not be approved for new patents.
If you are able to answer ‘yes’ to these three questions, then you are one step closer to having an idea worth protecting. If you are uncertain about your answers, you will be able to find some clarity while speaking with a Jacksonville patent lawyer with The Patent Professor.

Types of Patents in the United States

There are endless possibilities for what can be patented, but there are three categories that they are organized into. Within these three categories, there are many sub-categories that can more accurately define the patented innovation, and these sub-categories continue to expand as technology advances and new materials and fields are created. Patents are issued for a 20-year term unless otherwise specified.

Utility Patent

A utility, according to US patent law, is any machine, process, composition, or manufacture, or any new (and non-obvious) improvement thereof. These are the most common patents that are applied for and accounted for over 90% of all patents in 2015. This patent makes up such a significant number of overall patents because there is an extremely broad idea of what a “utility” actually is, and is ultimately applied to anything that serves an actual function. You will understand this more as you learn about the other two patents below.

Design Patent

A design patent is issued to protect the appearance of something and is only issued for ornamental designs. If the ornamental design also serves a function, then it may require that it is categorized as a utility patent, or perhaps you will be required to file for both if it is found to be unique in both categories. Oftentimes, inventors and designers may find themselves wondering if they should be applying for a trademark or a design patent – The Patent Professor will be able to help you determine the answer to this question. Design patents are issued for 15-year terms.

Plant Patent

A plant patent is issued to protect new plants from unauthorized reproduction. They are not granted for tubers, but any other plant that is able to be produced by asexual reproduction may qualify for a plant patent. Plant patents are the least common of the three patents and accounted for less than .2% of all patents in 2015.

Provisional Application for Patent

In many cases, you will determine that you do, in fact, have an innovation that is eligible for a patent, but you do not currently have all of the required information in order to submit a full application. In these cases, the first thing that you can do is to submit a provisional application, which will grant you limited protection for a 12-month period. During this time, we will have to work very hard to compile all of the necessary information and submit an official application — if the 12 months pass and you have not submitted a full application, you will be unable to do so for your innovation at all. Upon having a provisional application accepted, you will be able to market your product as “patent pending.”

The Patent Application Process

The patent application process can be notoriously daunting for new and seasoned inventors alike. To begin, we will first do an initial review of all existing patents to determine the novelty of your idea. If we are able to determine that your idea is, in fact, novel after our review, we will then make a recommendation to you about proceeding with your application. This process is tedious and time-consuming, but is extremely important in order to ensure that we are submitting with all of the required information. Upon determining that your idea is likely eligible for a patent, we will begin the actual process of completing the extensive documentation required. Our 20 years of experience will be an enormous asset during this step, while we ensure that all of the information required is included in the correct forms. You know your idea better than anyone, and we will make sure that your deep understanding is translated in a way that gives you the protection that you need. Once your application is approved, we will then work with you to make sure that you have an understanding of your rights, and how best to proceed with capitalizing on your innovations.

Contact The Patent Professor Now

If you believe that you have a new idea that you want to protect with the legal tools granted through the USPTO, contact us now to speak with an experienced professional about this opportunity. It is important that you act as soon as possible, in order to ensure that you can file your application without needing to compete against any other possible entrants to the market or upcoming innovations that may impede your patent approval process.