How to Patent Your Idea

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 What Is a Patent?

A patent is a legal designation given to a product or concept that identifies the inventor. This prevents other people or businesses from duplicating or imitating the product or concept without the original owner’s consent, often known as “unauthorized use and distribution.”

Imitation, fraud, or knock-off merchandise are unlawful under federal patent law. Because the World Trade Organization (WTO) establishes norms for international patent activity, patents are respected by countries other than the United States.

What Is a Utility Patent?

There are many distinct types of patents, but most people refer to utility patents when talking about them.

Utility patents protect four types of inventions. They are as follows:

  • A procedure: A procedure is any set of steps or processes.
  • A machine: A machine is any grouping of parts.
  • Manufacturing: Manufacturing is a material combination used to create something new.
  • A novel matter composition: A novel matter composition could be a chemically new substance, such as a medication or other compound.

In truth, many inventions fall under multiple categories. A modern telecommunications system, for example, may mix procedures and machines. Alternatively, a new type of concrete may combine novel combinations of existing components and entirely new chemicals.

If you can articulate your idea in the language utility patents protect, you may have an invention. If you can’t identify whether your innovation is a process, a machine, or a combination of the two, it could still be an idea you can’t patent.

Which Ideas Are Patentable?

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (US PTO) has various types of patents. The object or idea must be distinct, specific, and novel to both the market and the patent library.

Plants and designs can both be patented. However, the most common type of patent is a utility patent, awarded to a technique, method, or invention. To be granted a patent, the innovation must be useful.

What Is Patentable and What Is Not Patentable?

Even if your invention is within the scope of the law, not everything can be patented.

Determining which types of ideas are protectable will aid in determining whether your idea is an invention.

Inventions must not be overly abstract. For example, it is not patentable if your invention is a mathematical formula unrelated to any particular technique or application. It must genuinely assist someone in making a decision, moving a machine in the real world, or otherwise causing something helpful to occur.

Natural discoveries cannot be considered inventions. You cannot patent a fascinating new fish discovered when fishing in the backwoods, even if you are the first to discover it. To obtain a patent, you must do more than find something. You must purify, alter, or incorporate it into a larger creation.

It is necessary to define inventions. You come upon a plant extract that is a powerful antioxidant. It heals acne in low doses and, you imagine, could reverse heart disease or cure cancer at high concentrations.

While your acne remedy is probably certainly an invention, you will almost certainly need to do additional work to develop the antioxidant that will treat heart disease and cure cancer. To express an appealing idea, you must define the scope and not go beyond your wonderful creation.

Patent Necessities

Aside from what can and cannot be patented, patents must be innovative and non-obvious. For inventors, this means that the invention must be entirely novel.

Being novel implies that no one else has ever developed the same invention. Your invention is novel and has never been described in a journal or a patent application. Nobody has ever built the same item twice.

A non-obvious invention is one that others would not recognize. The sheer concept of combining two well-known items is not patentable. There must be something novel about how the items are integrated or why the creator chose the items. The obvious notion is elevated to a non-obvious invention by the selection of the objects or the way the things are combined.

Prior Art Searches for Patents

Search for existing patents, patent applications, or publications relating to your idea to determine novelty and non-obviousness. This is referred to as patent art. It is no longer innovative if you uncover a single patent that describes all of the phases of the process you devised.

If you come across an article that describes half of the components of your new machine and a patent application that explains the other half, your invention is obvious.

Patent research is now easier than ever, thanks to online tools. If your innovation has previously been invented, it is better to find out now rather than after your second round of funding.

Ideas are difficult to come by. It may be too broad if you have not appropriately focused on your invention idea. For example, it is difficult to find a machine unless you know what parts were used in its construction. Similarly, it is difficult to find a process unless you know all of its steps.

If you have difficulty commencing your patent search or receiving useful results, your idea may not yet be an invention.

Even if prior art is discovered, you have a few options:

  • Fight back: You can claim that the previous art is inapplicable because it is from a different field or is not identical to your invention.
  • Avoid it: You can limit the scope of your idea and concentrate on what makes it unique.
  • Accept it: Novelty is intended to be tough to achieve. Even the most brilliant inventors have already published or patented ideas. New inventions are always to be made, and opposing earlier art isn’t always worth it.

The distinction between invention and idea is hazy. Patent law provides you with the tools to assess your concept as an invention and the direction to refine your idea further to create the finest innovation possible.

What Is the Patent Application Process?

You must file an application with the US Patent and Trademark Office that includes your plan’s contents and visual aids such as maps or graphics. There is also a filing fee to pay. The patent application contains specific instructions.

A patent is issued to the person who files for it, not necessarily the idea’s inventor. This means that if you have a patent idea, you must keep the idea and its contents hidden and discreet until the US Patent and Trademark Office gives you a patent for your invention.

A patent is your personal property if you receive one. The law allows you to sell it just like any other property type. You can also license your patent to other people and businesses, which is analogous to renting out real estate.

Patent duration depends on the type of patent granted. Patents filed before June 8, 1995, will be valid for 20 years or 17 years after the patent is issued, whichever comes first. Patents filed after June 8, 1995, are valid for 20 years. Plant patents are valid for 17 years following the date of issuance, whereas design patents are valid for 14 years.

Do I Need an Attorney?

When applying for a patent, it is critical to seek legal counsel from a patent attorney. The application process can be fairly complicated, and mistakes might have serious implications. If someone else successfully patents your idea or innovation before you, you may lose exclusive rights to it. A lawyer will assist you in making the best case for a legitimate patent and ensure that your application is properly filled out.

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