Often times, the patent process and laws surrounding patents can be confusing. You have to know exactly what a patent is, if you should apply for one and what the benefits are of having a patent. A patent attorney can help you with the more in-depth process, but here are some basics you should know.
What is a patent?
A patent is issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office that grants an inventor the property right to the invention. It pretty much gives the inventor exclusive rights preventing others from making, selling or using the product without permission. A patent can be bought, sold or licensed.
Types of Patents
The most common patent is the utility patent. This patent is “granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture or composition of matter of any new and useful improvement”.
The 2nd most common patent is the design patent. This type of patent is “granted to anyone who invents a new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture”.
The least common patent is the plant patent. This patent is “granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any new variety of plant”.
Why a patent?
A patent is a valuable tool, but is it a smart move for your business? Did you know that only about three percent of all patent products actually make it to the market? The patent application can be an expensive and timely process if it doesn’t turn out to be successful.
However, if you are going to manufacture and sell your invented product yourself, you might want to protect the design, productivity and marketing of your invention by applying for a patent. A patent can also be used as a very valuable asset when negotiating with other companies to license your product.
Steps to Take
First, always evaluate your idea before applying for a patent. You need to make sure you understand the market and your competition. Also, patent research is important so you can make sure you are not committing patent infringement. An attorney can help you do a preliminary patent search and can help you through the extensive process to determine if you should apply for a patent.
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