Research Patents

Understanding research patents is easier when you understand the rules and regulations around patent protection. When you hold a patent, you hold the exclusive right to production, sale, and use of your invention. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) restricts people from using, selling, offering, or manufacturing a product within the country if they are not the legal inventor and patent holder. Within the U.S., a patent term is 20 years from the date you file the application.

Patents are available for useful and new machines, processes, compositions of matter, or manufactures, as well as improvements that are useful and new. In this case, a composition of matter refers to mixtures of ingredients, new compounds, and chemical compounds.

Before an invention can qualify for patent protection, it has to be novel, or new. According to the laws around patents, the invention cannot have been available in public use for over a year or printed in a publication more than a year ago. If either of these factors applies over a year before filing the patent application, the patent will not be approved.

Patents are not global in nature; inventors must apply for a patent in any country in which they want to hold exclusive rights. It is legal to apply for multiple patents in several countries at the same time.

Patent applications are published in publications from multiple patent organizations, including:

These publications allow inventors to search for outstanding applications before filing applications themselves. The system of administering patents helps to encourage innovation while allowing inventors full access to details about new inventions that are pending patent protection. Some of the main fields of academia that focus heavily on research include engineering, medicine, and chemistry. Most of the publications from those working in industrial science appear in patent literature.

What are the Requirements for Obtaining a Patent?

In order to qualify for a patent, an invention must be:

  • Non-obvious
  • Useful
  • Novel

A patent is only valid in the country in which it was granted. Patents are granted by the authority within a specific country or by an authority that is recognized in a specific country. If you file a patent application with the USPTO, you will not have any exclusive rights in Europe or China.

In order to qualify as novel, an invention can't be described in writing or known of anywhere else before you submit your patent application. In order to qualify as useful, an invention must improve upon an existing product or process, or serve a new purpose. In order to qualify as non-obvious, the invention must be different from anything that already exists. One example of this is trying to patent a smaller version of an existing product. This would not qualify as non-obvious.

What Can Be Patented?

There are three types of patents available through the USPTO:

  • Plant
  • Design
  • Utility

A utility patent is granted to an inventor for coming up with some type of useful and new machine, composition of matter, process, or article of manufacture. A design patent is granted to an inventor who has come up with an original, ornamental, and new design for something. A plant patent is granted to an inventor who has discovered or invented a new type of plant that can be asexually reproduced.

What are Trademarks?

Trademarks and patents are different from each other. A trademark provides a seal of the authenticity of goods and products. It protects the mark of a company, such as an image, logo, name, or phrase, allowing consumers to distinguish different types of products. A product can hold both patent and trademark protection. Trademark protection doesn't restrict anyone else from selling or manufacturing the service or product. This type of protection only prevents someone else from using a similar design, logo, or mark.

What Can Be Trademarked?

Trademarks are available for phrases, designs, symbols, and words, as well as a combination of any of those categories. In order to qualify for trademark protection, the mark must distinguish a service or product from another kind of service or product.

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