An inventions patent is issued through the United States Patent and Trademark Office. An invention patent is granted for an original and useful invention that alters the way people do something. Applying for the patent is a complex and costly process, but doing some research can help reduce the expense.

Patents give an inventor the legal right to keep others from producing, selling, or using their invention anywhere in the United States for the entire patent term, which is 14 years for a design patent and 17 years for an ordinary patent. Once it has expired, others can use, sell, or make the invention without having to gain permission from the patentee, as long as no other matter is used that is also covered by any other unexpired patents. If you, or someone on your behalf, describes the invention in any printed publication, uses the product in public, or puts it up for sale, you are required to apply for the patent within a year or you'll forfeit your opportunity to obtain one.

Facts about Invention Patents

Some inventors overvalue their own patents. An invention won't succeed unless there is a viable market for the product. Selling the invention might result in a better than expected profit, because the inventor might receive royalties.

Obtaining an invention patent might not be that difficult; however, it has to be something that is worth the effort, stress, and money. It's important to remember there is a big difference between just having a patent and having a good patent for an invention that is worth the effort.

Patent Law

Patent law is codified under the United States Code Title 35 and was initially enacted in 1790. The law provides for any inventor to obtain a patent on any useful and new invention:

  • Art
  • Machine
  • Process
  • Composition of matter
  • Manufacture

Inventors can obtain a patent if the invention was not used or previously known in the United States, and it hasn't been already patented or described in any printed publication in any country more than a year before you apply for the patent, and it cannot have been abandoned.

Patent Protection

Inventors need to take steps to protect their ideas. Start by creating a detailed written record from the beginning of the idea to the time you apply and the patent is granted. It's best to have this witnessed. For a small fee, inventors can also submit a Disclosure Document to the Patent and Trademark Office. File duplicate copies so the inventor can retain a copy once it's date stamped and numbered. These are held in confidential files for a period of two years. Documents are If no patent goes on file within the two years, the documents accompanying the patent get disposed of. The Disclosure Document isn't a substitution for a patent application, nor does it secure a patent right, but it can provide evidence of how the applicable invention came into being.

Patent Search

Before applying for a patent, you need to do a “Search of Prior Art.” It's done to ascertain whether the invention is already patented. The US Patent Office retains records of all patents issued in the US and has bound volumes and files of many foreign patents, along with technical and trade publications, that relate to technology. A number of libraries also have copies of United States patents.

Do a patent search but the results are only as good as the accuracy and quality of the search itself. It's recommended to retain a patent attorney, or an agent, who has registered to conduct these searches and practice before the United States Patent Office.

To ensure your invention is new, you have to conduct a search of all the prior developments in your field. This can involve searching for both domestic and foreign patents, as well as other publications (like scientific and technical journals) to find any related inventions.

Patent Applications

When applying for a patent, the application has few different items:

  • Specification, written details of your invention and must state a conclusion that specifically defines what the applicant believes the invention is
  • Filing fee
  • Oath
  • Illustrated drawing of the invention; it must comply with standards and rules set forth by the Patent Office

Once you submit a completed application, the US Patent Office will assign a serial number with the filing date that shows proof of acceptance for a patent examination. While some knowledgeable inventors complete their own patent application, it's recommended to that a patent attorney or registered patent agent do it so it's a stronger application.

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