Have you recently invented something? If you have, you probably want to know how to protect intellectual property and potentially how to go about getting a patent, as well. In the United States, all patents and trademarks go through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The process of getting a patent depends on many factors, and it’s also good to have the advice of patent litigation attorneys should you face any legal issues.
In order to simplify the patent process steps for those figuring out how to go about getting a patent, here is a simple breakdown of patent issues and concerns.
What a Patent Is
In the United States, patents are a property right “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States,” according to the USPTO website. Patents are good for a limited time in exchange for making the patent’s invention public. The only person who can apply for the patent (and receive it) is the person who invented the item.
What a Patent Is For
There are many different types of patents. Utility patents cover a process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter, or any improvement to the previously named categories. Patents can also be for ornamental design on a manufactured item and, in botany, for asexually reproduced plant varieties. Patents last 20 years for utility and plant patents; design patents can last 14 years.
What a Patent Is Not For
Although patents fall under the category of intellectual property protection, not all intellectual property can be patented. Literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works have to be copyrighted instead; this goes through the United States Copyright Office. Abstract ideas, physical phenomena, and laws of nature are also ineligible for patents, and the USPTO states that inventions that aren’t useful or are obvious cannot be patented, either. Brand names, logos, and other identities are trademarked, not patented.
How to Go About Getting a Patent
As long as a patent meets the above criteria and is adequately described, enabled, and claimed by the inventor, then it can go through the process of patenting (with some restrictions if the terms met are too vague). Depending on the type of patent you need, you will submit a patent application and then pay one or more fees: the filing fee, the issue fee (is your patent is accepted), and maintenance fees to maintain your patent’s legal protection. Maintenance fees are paid at 3-1/2, 7-1/2, and 11-1/2 years after the patent has initially been granted. The USPTO will notify you if additional fees are required. Design patents do not require maintenance fees.
For those who want to patent something, speaking with a patent attorney is an important first step. He or she can give you advice pertaining to your situation. If you have other questions on patents, be sure to visit the United States Patent and Trademark Office website or ask a question below. See this link for more.