Have you come up with a “new and improved” idea that will prove useful to either your business or the general public? If so, your idea may be eligible for legal patent protections via a utility patent. Utility patents are granted through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for specific kinds of ideas and products. Once obtained, patent holders may protect their ideas or products for up to 20 years.
There are two primary mandatory categories that an idea or object must fall into before it will be granted a utility patent. First, the idea or object in question must be new, non-obvious and useful. Although objects and processes patented in association with design or plant patent applications need not necessarily be useful, those patented under utility patents must be. And second, patent applications must concern an idea or object that is either a product, process or a machine. If you are concerned that your idea or object may not fall into these categories, it is important to speak with an experienced intellectual property attorney before filing your application.
Step One: Get Prepared
The process of completing a utility patent application process is usually quite challenging. These patent applications are dense, require a great amount of detail and are often difficult to draft. If you will be seeking assistance from an intellectual property attorney, he or she will need access to any notes you have taken about your creation process. The more detailed your notes are, the better. You may wish to include thoughts about your inspiration, research you have conducted and the dates and details of all improvements you have made throughout the process. Failure to include adequate notes may make it difficult to prove that your invention resulted from your own hard work and talent.
Step Two: Think About Filing a Provisional Application
If you have prepared research on your new, non-obvious, useful and practical idea or object, it is time to consider what kind or kinds of patents you want to apply for. If your idea or invention is in danger of infringement if you do not obtain patent protection quickly, you may want to consider filing a provisional application. Provisional patents can also help inventors buy a little time to figure out certain details of their designs or creations before they ultimately file non-provisional patent applications.
Step Three: Preparing for the Non-Provisional Application
Non-provisional patent applications should only be filed when your idea or product is either fully realized or prototyped and all your documentation is in order. These patent applications are dense and detailed. They require descriptions of the idea or invention, data sheets, fees, transmittal forms, declarations and often require drawings. The specifics of what your patent application process will require should be discussed with your attorney in order to avoid rejection on a technicality.
Step Four: Seek Legal Assistance
As previously observed, ensuring that a utility patent application is correctly and completely filled out is often a uniquely arduous task. Failure to complete this application in specific and detailed ways may lead to a rejection of your application by the USPTO and leave your idea or product vulnerable to infringement. Thankfully, the intellectual property team at LawTrades has extensive experience filing patent applications and can help to ensure that yours is properly drafted and submitted. The patent application process needs not be overwhelming when you have the LawTrades legal team on your side.