If you have an invention that you are considering patenting in Tampa, Florida, it is a very good idea to speak with an attorney who has experience with patent applications. The process of a patent application can be opaque and confusing, but with the help of an experienced attorney like The Patent Professor, you will have excellent guidance throughout the entire process. Avoid unnecessary rejections resulting from incorrect information, accidentally omitted portions of your application, and more. The Patent Professor is a trusted patent attorney for Tampa, and is happy to help you take the next step for your invention.

What is a patent?

A patent is a legal protective device for an invention. When a patent is issued for a utility, design, or plant, the inventor and/or patent-holder is granted a period of time where no other entities can copy their invention. This is a major benefit for anyone who wants to market, improve upon, and capitalize on their ideas without needing to worry additionally about new market entrants copying their ideas and diluting the market. There are extensive criteria that must be met before a patent is granted to an applicant, and there are three different types of patents that may be applied for (as well as a provisional application, which is also explained below).

Utility Patent

A “utility” is a machine, process, or compound that is determined to be useful, novel, and unique. A machine can be anything from a car, to a bike lock, to a computer, or anything else that can be used. A process that falls under a utility patent is a precise way to do something that achieves a specific result at the end of it, and has never been done before. A compound includes a combination of ingredients or materials that create a new material or compound. For any of these to qualify for a utility patent, they must be determined to be non-obvious, meaning that they are not just a slight modification to an existing patent, cannot copy an existing patent, and cannot naturally occur in a way that is already obvious to use. A utility patent has a 20-year term with it that begins as soon as it is issued.

Design Patent

A design patent is different from a utility patent in that it addressed the actual appearance of something, and not its function. A phone may have a utility patent (or many utility patents) covering it, but may additionally have a design patent that protects the actual design of the case it is in. A design patent has nothing to do with anything beyond the superficial or ornamental appearance of a product. For a design patent to be considered, it must be determined that the design that the patent will protect is entirely unique to the item or patent-applicant. A design patent carries a 14-year term that begins as soon as the patent is issued.

Plant Patent

A plant patent, as the name suggests, is reserved exclusively for the development of new plants (but excludes tubers). One of the major requirements for a plant patent is that the plant was produced asexually, meaning that it did not simply grow from an existing seed. Asexual production could include cloning, grafting, or any way that results in a plant that does not exist in nature or is already patented. In addition to asexual reproduction, the plant must be determined to be new and distinctive from any existing plants. A plant patent has a term of 20 years and gives the patent holder the exclusive right to produce, use, or sell the patented plant.

Provisional Application for Patent

A provisional application is NOT the same as a patent, and is generally used as a precursor to a full patent application. It allows the applicant temporary, limited patent rights for a term of 12 months, at which point they must have converted to a full patent. The provisional application allows an inventor to develop their creation more before finalizing their patent, and requires less information, details, and designs than a final patent application. When an individual has been approved for a provisional application, they are able to market their product as “Patent Pending,” which adds credibility to the product, but again, does not carry the same weight—neither legally nor in terms of marketing power—than a patent. Your attorney may advise you to file a provisional application immediately in order to allow yourself more time to compile all of the required information to ensure a successful patent application.

Should I File For a Patent?

If you believe that you have invented a novel utility, design, or plant, you should consult with a patent attorney immediately. The patent process can be confusing, and determining whether or not you have a patentable product can be equally confusing. Discuss your idea with your attorney, and they will be able to assist you with identifying possible blockers, complete your application, and navigate complicated requests for information. A good patent attorney will be able to research existing patents, and help with suggestions to ensure that your invention is truly unique if you do not have an extensive understanding of patent laws and procedures.

How Can The Patent Professor Help Me?

If you are considering whether or not you should apply for a patent for your invention, The Patent Professor is happy to help you. Once you have decided to file, you must then determine patent types, how many patents, and whether or not you should be applying for multiple types of patents at once. A single patent application can be overwhelming, and an incomplete application will be rejected. Use our experience to your advantage to ensure that you are following the procedures set forth by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to increase your chances of success. Contact The Patent Professor today to begin your patent application process and protecting your intellectual property.