Whether you’ve discovered the latest technological wonder or figured out a way to satisfy a common woe shared by millions, the protection of an invention is very important. In order to receive credit and hopefully a profit from your vision, one must obtain a patent. While trademark (words, names, and symbols for goods or services) and copyright (for literature, art, drama, and music) are common protective approaches for intellectual property, patents are used to protect the rights of an inventor.
Before filing the necessary paperwork, the first step in patenting an invention is to make sure you haven’t dreamed up something that already exists under a filed patent. You should also know that not everything can be patented, such as inventions that use unique nuclear material to create atomic weapons. Not everyone can apply for a patent as well – only inventors are allowed to submit the proper paperwork. Employees of the Patent and Trademark Office are also excluded. The next step in patenting an invention is to identify the proper type of patent(s) that will satisfy your needs.
Identifying Patent Need
There are three different types of patents to apply for, where some inventions are eligible for more than one application submission. A design patent allows inventors a chance to protect any new or evolved ornamental design for “an article of manufacture.” Design patents only protect the appearance of an invention and are not made to safeguard the structure or function of an item.
A plant patent aids inventors that come across or creates a new variety of plant, such as a hybrid, mutant, or newly discovered type of seedling. Utility patents are used to protect inventions that do not fall under the category of a design or plant patent. This type of patent accommodates the function of an invention, as well as its intended use.
Once you gather the proper information and patent request requirements for your invention, you need to write a patent application. You can write your own application or you may hire a patent agent or patent attorney to represent your invention and handle the paperwork side of the process. While plant and design patent applications are sometimes manageable by the average submitter, the utility patent is considered the most difficult of all to complete. Often, outside help is needed to properly finalize utility patents.
When it comes to submitting a patent application, the potential success you stand to gain may determine whether or not a patent attorney or agent will increase your chances of profitable achievement. The stronger the application presentation is, the more powerful a patent will become. Many inventors have missed out on beneficial opportunities because of pathetic claims and poorly executed drawings with their proposed patent application.
In order to protect an invention and apply for a patent, you will need to file an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (also known as a PTO application). If you wish to acquire worldwide protection, a Patent Cooperation Treaty application is needed (also known as a PCT application). The World Intellectual Property Organization furnishes this type of application. All applications require professionally drawn diagrams and plans, and must meet other specific criteria.
While there are different kinds of patent applications to submit, some criteria and requirements is the same. For example, for a non-provisional patent application, the United States Patent and Trademark Office calls for a written document with description and claims, as well as an oath or declaration. A drawing is needed when applicable. When submitting, papers should be presented in the English language with the use of a typewriter or computer printer on non-shiny white paper.
To complete an application submission, the proper filing, search, and examination fees should be paid. Patent applications can be submitted through the mail, as well as electronically across the Internet.
Cash, credit card, or check can be used to pay for the fees associated with application submission. For example, the basic filing fee for a design patent is $200.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is an agency that falls under the United States Department of Commerce. A main website provides additional information, as well as the forms needed to begin patent proceedings.