When you create an invention that hasn’t been seen before, you should patent the idea and/or invention so that others cannot steal your hard work. When our Patent Attorneys start the process, we can conduct a Patent search to ensure that another version of your idea or invention hasn’t already been patented. To obtain a Patent, an application must be submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in your name. If the invention has more than one person, all inventors must be named on the application as joint inventors.
Depending on your invention our attorneys will be applying for one of three types of protection:
- Utility Patent – This is the most common type of Patent and is used for new machines, useful processes, composition of matter or article of manufacture. The utility Patent covers the invention described in the words of its claims.
- Design Patent – This Patent covers a new, ornamental and original design for something used in manufacturing. It covers only the appearance of your invention, not how it functions. Your drawings define what the Patent covers.
- Plant Patent – A plant Patent is for a new or newly discovered distinct variety of plant that is asexually produced.
Once you are granted a utility or plant Patent, it will last for 20 years from the date you filed the application. Design Patents last 14 years. You must also pay periodic maintenance fees “on time” to keep the protection in place for the entire time as granted.
Common Questions for a Patent Attorney
Q: What is a Patentable idea or invention?
A: In order to apply for a Patent, you must be the actual inventor. If you are a company and your employee creates an invention during the course and scope of his or her employment, you, as the representative of the company, may be able to file an application in the company’s name for an idea or inventions including:
Physical objects or a machine: As long as the invention is new, even if you created it out of known components. To this end, even improvements to existing ideas can be patented, so long as the improvement is not blatantly obvious in nature. In addition to physical objects, some types of business, technical & industrial processes can also be patented. For example, certain types of business methods, technical processes and industrial procedures can be eligible for protection as long as you have created something new and unique.
NOTE: If you create something using atomic energy or special nuclear materials, these generally cannot be patented. You also cannot patent abstract ideas, laws of nature or physical phenomena.
Q: I don’t have a way to make a prototype. Can I still get a Patent?
A: While it can be helpful to have a working prototype of your invention, it is not required. You only need to describe your invention or idea in enough detail so that another person who has “ordinary skill in the art” can make and use what you invented.
Q: Should I use an invention submission and idea promotion company?
A: No. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) plus several other government agencies have been investigating numerous companies who say they will evaluate your invention, contact product manufacturers and do all the leg work to obtain your Patent. The U.S. Patent Office estimates that inventors lose close to $300 million dollars from fraudulent invention promotion businesses. Don’t be fooled by exaggerated ads and promises that you will be rich beyond your wildest dreams. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When you have intellectual property to protect, seek legal counsel from a reputable Patent attorney.
Q: I’ve already sold a few. Does that mean I cannot apply?
A: Not necessarily. So long as the invention has not been offered for sale, or otherwise publicly disclosed for more than one year, we can still file for a United States Patent.