Patents are legal tools that allow inventive individuals and businesses to protect their potentially marketable ideas from infringement. At their most basic, patents allow the government to recognize certain unique ideas and inventions in ways that prevent others from creating, using or marketing those ideas and inventions for a set period of time. Patent holders may then use this protected period of time to create, use and/or market their ideas and inventions themselves. Let’s talk about patent ideas and the patent application process.
It is therefore important for any individual or business with a patent ideas or invention to secure necessary legal protections as quickly as possible. Failure to do so will leave patent ideas and inventions vulnerable to infringement and inventors unprotected under the law.
Step One: Determine Your Patent Type
There are three types of patent ideas on what can be patented recognized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Each patent idea requires the patent applicant to undergo slightly different steps to secure a patent, so it is important to understand what kind of potentially patent-worthy idea or invention you are dealing with and how to patent your idea.
Utility Patent – Used for new processes, machines and chemicals
Design Patent – Granted for new designs or unique appearances of manufactured objects
Plant Patent – Exclusively for both invention and asexual reproduction of unique, new plant varieties and hybrids
In general, patent ideas must be new, non-obvious and useful. But there are exceptions to these rules, depending on what kind of object or process you are attempting to obtain a patent for. For example, The Washington Post publishes an annual list of that year’s “stupidest patents.” And while many are neither useful nor non-obvious, the inventions highlighted have all been granted patent protection.
Step Two: Research and Record
It is helpful to “show your work” at every step of the invention process to justify your patent protection. Try and record as many details about your process as possible, including dates each adjustment was made, research conducted and the signatures of any witnesses present when developments occurred. Any notations that you make will help to support your claims that your invention is indeed your intellectual property.
Step Three: Prototypes
It is important to understand that ideas alone cannot be patented. If you are sitting around the family dinner table and someone exclaims, “You know, someone should really invent a widget or a_____!” you cannot obtain a patent for whatever idea may fill in that blank. Instead, patents applications are granted for those ideas that may be implemented in concrete ways. As a result, it is important to be able to prototype your idea in one of several different forms in order to prove to the USPTO that your patent idea is both eligible for and worthy of patent protection.
Step Four: Seek Legal Assistance
Filing a patent application correctly can mean the difference between a USPTO acceptance and a rejection. As a result, it is important to have an intellectual property attorney assist you in preparing your patent application and submitting it according to USPTO regulations. Thankfully, the team at LawTrades has extensive experience in submitting patent applications and is happy to help you prepare and submit yours. Our affordable, efficient and effective approach to patent application assistance will help to ensure that you feel confident about your submission.