If you believe that you’ve come up with a unique or novel invention, design, or plant, it is strongly recommended that you file for a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office immediately. A patent is meant to protect inventors from unfair competition from people stealing their invention and bringing it to market. Navigating the patent application process can be complicated, and oftentimes determining if you are able to patent your ideas is equally as complicated. Luckily, The Patent Professor is available to help you through the steps if you need a patent attorney in Miami.

What is a Patent?

A patent is a legal designation that protects an inventor from having their idea replicated for a set period of time. If the US Patent and Trademark Office determines an invention to be unique, useful, and novel during the course of an application, then they will issue a patent that gives exclusive rights to the inventor. By using a patent, inventors are able to develop their ideas and bring them to market without additionally worrying about competing with other entities who have repeated their invention, therefore flooding the market with knockoffs of their intellectual property. There are a few types of patents you can apply for, depending on the nature of your invention.

Utility Patents

Utility patents are the most commonly-applied for types of patents in the United States. A utility patent covers any type of machine (such as a computer, vehicle, gadget, or device), chemical compound, or process. In order for a utility to be eligible for patent, it must be determined to be useful, unique or novel, and non-obvious. This means that the machine must have real-life application, does not replicate another existing patent, and is not so simple that it would be restrictive to many existing utilities if it were to be patented. If your invention involves a new object, process, or chemical compound or set of ingredients, it is likely that you will want to apply for a utility patent, not a design or plant patent. A utility patent is covered by a 20-year term upon issuance by the USPTO.

Design Patents

A design patent differs from a utility patent in that it protects the appearance and design of an item. This could be the stylings of a car, casing of a computer or cell phone, or shape of a household object like a vacuum. Design patents are intended to keep “knock-off” products from ending up in the market that mislead consumers into believing they are buying a trusted brand. Some well-known design patents include the iPad and other Apple products. If you believe that your design is unique, and important to your brand but does not affect that actual operation of your product, then you will likely want to file for a design patent. A design patent has a 14-year term that begins as soon as it is issued.

Plant Patents

A plant patent covers any unique plant (excluding tubers) that an inventor is able to create asexually. The reason for the requirement of asexual creation is to ensure that the plant can not already be grown from seed. This can include grafting, cutting, or rooting hybrid plants. The patent protects the patent holder for 20 years, in which time they are allowed to maintain control over production, distribution, licensing, or sales of their unique plant.

Provisional Application

A Provisional Application for a patent is a legal filing with the USPTO that establishes a filing date for the invention, but is not considered a full patent until the inventor files a complete patent application. The applicant has one year to file a full patent application in order to mature their rights to a full patent. The Provisional Application is NOT a patent, but once the patent application has been filed, the invention may be marketed as “patent pending.” This option is lower-cost, and requires less information than a full patent application, but is term-limited to one year and does not offer as much protection as a complete patent. The best function for a provisional patent is to act as a “placeholder” while you are able to finalize your documentation for a complete patent application.

Can I Patent My Idea?

If you believe that you have invented a novel utility, plant, process, or design, you may be eligible to protect your invention with a U.S. patent. For your idea to be eligible for patent, it must be determined to be novel (different from existing inventions), useful (beneficial), and non-obvious (not already existing naturally or only slightly different from another patent). If you believe that your idea meets the aforementioned requirements, you should consult with a patent attorney immediately. By their nature, patents can be complicated and gray. Employing the assistance of a patent attorney is extremely valuable — you will be able to get help with determining your eligibility, reviewing your applications, verifying your ideas, and verifying that you have covered all requirements before submitting.

Do I Need An Attorney to File For a Patent?

You are not required to file a patent application with the help of an attorney, but it is highly recommended. The process is complex, and for someone who is unfamiliar with the process, it can be extremely intimidating. The forms and information required in an application tends to be extremely specific, and a failure to complete these applications with all of the relevant documentation may lead to a rejection. Although a rejection is not final, any lost time in getting total legal control over your invention can be detrimental to your success. By enlisting the help of a trained professional through this process, you can be assured that your patent application is being handled properly, and your chances of success will be greatly increased.

Can The Patent Professor Help With My Application?

If you are looking for a patent attorney in Miami, The Patent Professor is available to help you from start to finish. We have extensive experience with patent law, and will be happy to guide you through the process of protecting your intellectual property. Your rights are important to us.