What is a patent?
A patent is a legal document issued by the U.S. government, namely the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office or USPTO, that gives the owner of the patent (“patentee”) the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the patentee’s invention. There are three basic types of patents – utility, design and plant. Utility patents are discussed here and design patents will be discussed in a separate post.
Is my idea patentable?
Trick question! Ideas are not patentable. Inventions are patentable. Utility patents may be granted to anyone who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.” So what does this mean? Your invention must have utility (be useful), new (have novelty), and also be non-obvious.
If you’re not sure if your invention meets these requirements, you may wish to have a patentability search done prior to investing in filing your patent application. In a patentability search, issued patents, published patent applications, and other general publications are among references searched for similar inventions.
What’s not patentable?
Laws of nature, natural phenomena and abstract ideas cannot be patented. If you are not sure if your invention falls under one of these categories, please contact an experienced patent attorney.
I think I may have a patentable invention – now what?
In 2013, the US moved from a first-to-invent patent system to a first-to-file patent system. This means that getting your patent application filed as soon as possible became more critical than who invented it first. Furthermore, your own public disclosure of your invention can be used against you so it would be wise not to delay if you’ve made such public disclosures. Once you think you may have a patentable invention, contact an experience patent attorney and work with them closely to file a patent application. The patent attorney will likely ask you to complete an invention disclosure form describing in detail your invention, so be ready for that. Also, inquire regarding a provisional patent application if you’re not sure about whether you want to invest in a “regular” or non-provisional patent application.
When do I get my patent?
Unfortunately, the patent process is not a quick one. It can often take up to 2-3 years to receive a response from the USPTO. If you are eager and want a decision quickly, there are ways to expedite the process and receive a decision within 1 year. The good news is that once you file your patent application, you can represent that a product embodying your invention is “patent pending.”
Patents Making Your Head Spin?
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Author: Aimee Haynes
I motivate, I blog, I listen, I give advice, I help, I create, I work with others, I stand my ground when needed, and I am always open to new ideas. In addition to the qualities that define me most, I'm also a Corporate Law attorney working with entrepreneurs, creatives, and small businesses to help them achieve success..