Have you come up with an invention or innovation that you believe needs legal protection? If you have come up with a new idea and do not want to put it out into the open source community, it is strongly recommended that you file for a patent. A patent is a legal device that protects unique inventions from unlicensed reproduction from other entities, and gives the inventor, patent-owner, or licensed partner the ability to sell, manufacture, distribute, and market the patent with exclusivity.
If you are planning to file a patent application, or are trying to determine whether you should or not, contact The Patent Professor as soon as possible. We have over 20 years of experience helping clients navigate this complicated process with successful outcomes, and will be happy to guide you through these steps as well. Read more below to get some general information about patents, the application process, and the types of patents you can apply for, and contact us today to get started on your own.
Should I File a Patent?
Obviously, determining whether or not you actually want to or should file for a patent is an essential first step to take in this process. Ask yourself the following questions to get a basic idea of your options:
- Is your innovation or invention novel? The USPTO defines ‘novel’ as something new, that has not previously existed. If your idea is original, then you are one step closer to being patentable.
- Is the idea non-obvious? The USPTO will not accept patent applications for things that are obvious, such as a simple upgrade to a hammer by making a slightly larger face. This is a minor alteration to an existing product.
- Is the idea useful? It must be determined that the invention or innovation in question has a use, and can perform that task. If the idea does not have an actual use (or has a specific ornamental appearance for a useful item), then it will not be approved.
If you can answer ‘yes’ to the following questions, or if you are still uncertain, then The Patent Professor is available for a consultation today. Hiring a patent attorney in Naples is a good idea no matter how familiar you are with the patent application process, as each step is extremely complicated and requires extensive paperwork and forms to be completed and submitted in very specific ways.
Types of Patents in the United States
Patents are divided into three different categories, each of which pertains to a very specific and clear type of innovation or invention. Beyond these main three categories, there are many sub-categories, which are constantly being expanded as new technologies emerge and new research fields expand. In most cases, it is fairly obvious which category your idea will fit into, but if you are unsure, we will be happy to help.
A utility patent is the most-commonly issued type of patent and made up for over 90% of all applications in 2015. A ‘utility,’ as defined by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is a “process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.” This allows for a wide range of inventions to be considered utilities, provided that they serve an actual function. As you can see in this definition, a patent may be granted for an improvement upon an existing utility patent, but it must be determined to be “non-obvious” in order to qualify. Utility patents are issued with a 20-year term.
A design patent is issued in order to protect the unique, purely ornamental aspects of something. Design patents are intended to protect the appearance of an object but if the design serves an actual useful function, it may either need to be filed as a utility patent, or may possibly need both patents in order to fully protect the innovation. Design patents are issued for 15-year terms.
A plant patent is issued for new (non-tuber) plants that are produced by asexual reproduction. This means that it must be produced in a way that is not natural such as germination, but instead, created by something such as grafting or other engineered mutations. Plant patents make up a very small percentage of the overall patent applications each year, but are no less important in order to protect your innovation.
Provisional Application for Patent
In many cases, an inventor may come up with a new idea but does not have all of the required information needed to get a patent approved. In this case, the most appropriate step is to submit a provisional application, where you will have limited legal rights for a 12-month period, in which time you will be able to compile the remaining information and submit for a complete patent.
If your provisional application is accepted, you will be able to designate your invention as ”Patent Pending,” but if you do not submit a complete application by the end of your 12 months, you will be unable to ever submit for a full patent on the innovation.
The Patent Application Process
The patent application process can be daunting and time-consuming, and even the most seasoned inventors often choose to hire a patent attorney to handle this part of the invention process. This is because each step of the process requires a lot of time, as well as an intimate understanding of the requirements for a successful patent application.
First, we will research the patent database to check your idea against existing patents. If we determine that it is likely your patent will be found as novel, we will suggest moving forward with the application process. Throughout the process, we will need a lot of different information and details pertaining to your invention, but will additionally need to do extensive administrative paperwork. We will ensure that all required information is included in the application, and that the information you provide about your idea meets the necessary criteria.
Nobody knows your invention better than you do, so while we are making sure that the application is completed, we will also work with you to make sure that you include all of the important details about your work to make sure that every innovation is protected, and that the full scope of your project is presented accurately and completely to the USPTO.
A rejection because of an incomplete application can be extremely frustrating and can cost valuable time while you are trying to protect your intellectual property.
Contact The Patent Professor Now
The most important thing to do is to act immediately. Filing as soon as possible is an important way to ensure that your innovation stays yours, and you are able to avoid any complications if competitors submit their own similar patents. We will help you identify the most appropriate course of action, and pursue it aggressively.
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