Get A Patent On An Idea – This article is for informational purposes. This content is not legal advice, it is the expression of the author and has not been evaluated for accuracy or changes in the law.
If you’re an inventor or visionary, you’ve probably dreamed of patenting a creation. From robotics and social distancing trackers to customizable desk organizers, there were 646,244 patent applications in 2020. But the application does not guarantee approval. U.S. According to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), the federal agency that oversees and issues patents, only 53% of applicants are granted a patent.
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Not every invention is patentable—or 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 a specific right that prevents someone else from making, using, selling, distributing, importing or selling your invention without permission for a specified period of time. This time limit can be extended up to 20 years depending on the type of patent.
U.S. By law, as part of the utility patent process, you can file a less formal provisional patent application documenting your claim for the invention while allowing time for refinement, experimentation and determining commercial viability.
This process gives you an extra year to plan your formal filing and gives you a preferred filing date. After your provisional patent application is approved, you can mark your invention as patent pending.
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As a patent owner, you can sell or give your ownership to anyone you want. When the patent expires, your invention becomes available to the public and anyone can sell, manufacture or use it from then on.
A patent gives you full ownership of your invention and prevents others from profiting from your thinking and hard work. A patent attorney can help you with this process, as they specialize in patent law and practice. Here are other rights that the patentee has under the patent:
There are many inventions created to make our lives easier. Here are some of the most important inventions throughout patent history:
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Knowing the difference between patents, copyrights and trademarks can be confusing. Here’s an overview of what each protects and their different features:
Trademarks are protections for any phrase, word, design, symbol, or combination thereof that identifies a service or good and distinguishes its origin from others on the market. A patent, on the other hand, aims to protect inventions.
Getting a trademark doesn’t mean you own a word or phrase—it only provides protection if that word or phrase is attached to your particular service or good. However, unlike patents, trademarks do not have an expiration date—trademarks can last forever if properly maintained. Some examples of trademarks include the McDonald’s Golden Arches logo, the Coca-Cola font, and the Nike Swoosh symbol.
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Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives the owner the legal right to copy, reproduce, perform and display creative works for a specified period of time. Some copyrights can be set for up to 120 years.
Examples of works that can be copyrighted include music, art, architecture, literature, choreography and software. In contrast, patents protect inventions.
Utility patents protect inventions in the United States for up to 20 years. But there are different types of patent classes with their own eligibility requirements that protect specific types of inventions. Different types of patent applications and how they differ:
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Design patents protect only the decorative appearance 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 the umbrella of inventions that most people think of when they hear “patent.” A utility patent is a very detailed technical document that describes how a new machine, process or system works and provides powerful protection. This patent protected a wide variety of inventions such as brooms, computers, business processes and pharmaceuticals.
Plant patents are intended to protect the inventor who created the unique plant. For example, new varieties of roses and apples are protected by plant patents. This is the most rarely granted patent.
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Before applying for a patent, be sure to research your invention to see if it qualifies for patents. U.S. Under patent law, anyone who invents or discovers something new and useful can get a patent. To qualify for a utility patent, your invention must fall into one of these categories:
There are a few things to keep in mind if you want to apply for a patent. To be considered for a patent, your invention must also:
Patents are expensive and a lot of work. At the same time, they are very valuable—a valuable form of intellectual property. Below are two important points to consider before filing a patent application:
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Patents are property and you can exclude infringers from your property. If you want to file a patent, is this the asset your business needs?
For example, let’s say your invention is a machine with a specific configuration of parts. If your competitors start manufacturing and selling the same machine, it is very simple to determine if your competitor is infringing your patent. Buy the machine, take it apart and look at the components. If it’s anything like your patented invention, you have an infringer – it’s time to kick them off your property.
However, if your patent is a manufacturing method, proving infringement can be more complicated. If you want to gain access to your competitor’s factory and watch them make their products to determine if your competitor is infringing your patent, it will be more difficult to enforce your patent. Patent rights that are difficult to enforce are less valuable.
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Your patent should add value to your business. Make sure you’re acquiring a valuable asset that can chase away offenders.
If you have a patentable invention that fits your business model and is innovative, then the next step is to apply for a patent.
The patent process is an undertaking, often taking years to go from application to enforcement rights. And once a patent is granted, the inventor must pay maintenance fees to keep it. For this reason, it helps to know how much you want to spend and when you should spend.
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One way to manage how much and when you pay is to file a provisional patent application. A provisional patent does not involve many of the formalities of a full patent application, making it significantly cheaper.
A provisional filing gives you 12 months to decide if you want to file a full patent application or if you want to walk away.
A provisional patent application gives you the benefit of an earlier filing date. If you’re not sure if you need a patent, but you know well in 12 months, a provisional patent application may be the way to go.
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The patent process has many steps and requirements, but provides many benefits to the inventor. Here are some frequently asked questions about the patent process:
The length of protection a patent provides varies depending on the type of patent, but some can protect an invention for up to 20 years.
The cost of filing a patent can range from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the complexity of your invention and the type of patent you are applying for.
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Patents are considered territorial rights, so the only country where your patent is valid is the country where you obtained it.
According to the USPTO, it takes about 22 months for patents to be approved. However, this can be expedited if you are eligible for Priority Review, also known as Track One. This patent examination process is short and takes about six to 12 months.
Tip: Follow up with the USPTO when possible to check the status of your patent approval – this will help identify any delays or problems in the process.
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If your patent is denied, the process doesn’t have to end there. You can appeal through the Patent Examinations and Appeals Board. However, if you choose this option, you may be subject to additional legal fees and pending approval time.
To perform a patent search, you first need to know the novelty of your invention. This means: What makes your product, service or system new and different? To find out whether an invention is already patented or not, you can search the USPTO database or use a patent search service.
Before filing for a patent, it is in your best interest to research how the market may react to your invention before filing. If you discover the true need and desire of your invention, you are on the right track. On the other hand, if the consensus is more indifferent, it may be better not to go through all the expense and hassle of the patenting process.
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You also want to consider the cost
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