What Kind Of Patent Do I Need – This article is for informational purposes. This content is not legal advice, is the expression of the author and has not been evaluated for accuracy or changes in the law.
If you’re an inventor or a visionary, you’ve probably dreamed of patenting a creation. From robotics and social distancing trackers to a customizable desktop organizer, there were 646,244 patent applications in 2020. But an application doesn’t guarantee approval. According to the US Patent and Trademark Office USA (USPTO), the federal agency that oversees and issues patents, only 53% of applicants are granted a patent.
What Kind Of Patent Do I Need
Not all inventions are patentable, or even worth patenting. But understanding the basics of patents and what the USPTO is looking for can help you get approved. Read on to learn how a patent works, the different types of patents, the protections they provide, and whether they’re right for your idea.
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A patent is an exclusive right that prevents anyone else from making, using, selling, distributing, importing or selling your invention without permission for a specified period of time. This period can extend up to 20 years, depending on the type of patent.
Under US law, as part of the utility patent process, you can file a less formal provisional patent application that documents your claim to an invention while giving you time to refine, experiment, determine commercial viability, etc.
This process gives you an additional year to plan your formal filing and gives you a priority filing date. Once the provisional patent application is granted, you can identify your invention as patent pending.
As the owner of the patent, you can sell or assign your ownership to whomever you wish. When the patent expires, your invention is available to the public and anyone can sell, manufacture or use it thereafter.
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A patent gives you absolute ownership of your invention and prevents others from profiting from your thinking and work. A patent attorney can also help you during this process as they specialize in patent law and practice. Here are other rights that the patent owner has under a patent:
There are many inventions that have been created to make our lives easier. Here are some key inventions throughout history that have been patented:
Knowing the difference between patents, copyrights and trademarks can be confusing. Here’s a breakdown of what each protects and their different features:
Trademarks are protection for any phrase, word, design, symbol, or combination thereof that identifies a service or good and distinguishes its origin from others in the marketplace. Patents, on the other hand, aim to protect inventions.
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Obtaining a trademark does not mean that you own the word or phrase; it only offers protections if that word or phrase is attached to your particular service or asset. However, trademarks do not have an expiration date like patents; brands can last forever if properly maintained. Some examples of trademarks include the McDonald’s logo with golden arches, the Coca-Cola font, and the Nike symbol.
Copyright is a type of intellectual property that allows the owner the legal right to make copies, reproductions, perform and display creative works for a specified period of time. Some copyrights can be established for up to 120 years.
Examples of works that can be protected by copyright include music, art, architecture, literature, choreography and software. In contrast, patents protect inventions.
Utility patents protect inventions for up to 20 years in the United States. But there are different types of patent categories with their own eligibility requirements that protect specific types of inventions. Here are the different types of patent applications and their differences:
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Design patents only protect the ornamental exterior or appearance of a product that has a practical use. The invention must have a useful and original design. An example of this type of patent is the original design of the Coca-Cola bottle.
Utility patents are an umbrella of inventions that most people think of when they hear “patent.” A utility patent is a highly detailed technical document that details how a new machine, process or system works and provides a powerful form of protection. This patent protected a wide range of inventions such as the broom, computers, business processes and pharmaceuticals.
Plant patents are intended to protect an inventor who has created a unique variety of plant. For example, new varieties of roses and apples were protected by plant patents. This is the least granted patent.
Before applying for a patent, be sure to research the patentability of your invention to see if it meets the requirements. Under US patent law, anyone can receive a patent if they invent or discover something new and useful. To be eligible for a utility patent, your invention must fall into one of these categories:
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There are a few factors to consider if you want to apply for a patent. To be considered for a patent, your invention must also be:
Patents are expensive and a lot of work. At the same time, they are very valuable, a valued form of intellectual property. Below are two main factors to consider before applying for a patent:
Patents are property and you can exclude intruders from your property. If you’re going to file for a patent, is that the kind of property your business needs?
For example, let’s say your invention is a machine with a particular configuration of parts. If your competitors start producing and selling the same machine, it would be fairly easy to determine if your competitor is infringing your patent. Buy the machine, take it apart and look at the components. If it is the same as your patented invention, then you have a trespasser, time to kick him off your property.
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However, if your patent is a manufacturing method, proving infringement can be more complicated. If you need access to your competitor’s factory and watch them produce their products to determine if your competitor is infringing your patent, then your patent is much more difficult to enforce. Patent rights that are difficult to enforce are often less valuable.
Your patent has to add value to your business. Be sure to acquire valuable assets that you can drive intruders away from.
If you have a patentable invention that fits your business model and is new, the next step is to file a patent application.
The patent process is an undertaking, often taking years from application to enforceable claims. And once a patent is granted, the inventor must pay maintenance fees to keep it. For this reason, it’s helpful to know how much you want to spend and when you’ll need to spend it.
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One way to manage how much and when you will pay is to file a provisional patent application. A provisional patent lacks many of the formalities of a full patent application, making it substantially less expensive.
Provisional filing gives you 12 months to decide whether you want to file a full patent application or walk away.
A provisional patent application gives you the benefit of an earlier filing date. If you are not sure whether you need a patent, but you may know better in 12 months, a provisional patent application may be the way to go.
The patent process has many steps and requirements, but it also provides many benefits to the inventor. Here are some frequently asked questions related to the patent process:
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The length of protection a patent offers varies depending on the type of patent, but some can protect an invention for up to 20 years.
The cost of applying for a patent can range from thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of your invention and the type of patent you are applying for.
Patents are considered territorial rights, so the country in which you received your patent is the only country in which it will be valid.
According to the USPTO, patents take about 22 months to be approved. However, this can be expedited if you qualify for a priority review, also known as Track One. This patent review process is shorter and takes between six and 12 months.
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Tip: Follow up with the USPTO when possible to check the approval status of your patent; this can help identify any delays or hiccups in the process.
If your patent is rejected, the process does not have to end there. You can file an appeal through the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. However, you may be subject to additional legal fees and time pending approval if you choose this option.
To conduct a patent search, you first need to know what makes your invention new. This means: What makes your product, service or system new and different? To find out if an invention has already been patented, you can search the USPTO database or use a patent search service.
Before applying for a patent, it’s in your best interest to research how the market might react to your invention before filing. If you discover a real need and desire for your invention, you’re on the right track. On the other hand, if the consensus is more indifferent, it might be better not to go through all the expense and hassle of the patent process.
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You’ll also want to consider the cost