Utility Patent Attorney: Everything You Need to Know
A utility patent attorney practices law in protecting intellectual property assets.3 min read
Utility Patent Attorney
A utility patent attorney practices law in protecting intellectual property assets.
Utility patents are granted to inventions that have substantial and useful utility and that are non-obvious and new. Manufactured goods, processes for manufacturing, or industrial practices can all be granted a utility patent. Patents provide protection from others using your invention for making a profit.
Types of Patents
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants two types of patents.
A design patent protects the ornamental design but not the functionality of the invention itself. A utility patent protects the functionality and includes processes, methods, composition of matter (chemicals), and machines.
Utility Patent Requirements
In order to be granted a utility patent, an invention must meet certain criteria. The invention must be non-obvious, new, and useful having a substantial utility. You may wonder what is meant by “useful” and “substantial utility.”
• An invention must be deemed “useful” in order to receive a utility patent. What does “useful” mean? That can be difficult to define in terms of patents, and an experienced patent attorney is someone who can define these terms more specifically. In short, it means that in the mind of the inventor the invention can be “useful.” The utility must be able to be shared across a wide-ranging class of the invention.
• The invention must be useful in its current form. It’s not enough that it might be useful at some point in the future; the invention must be able to be used presently. If further research is required before the invention can be used in the real world, then the invention does not meet the requirement of “substantial utility.”
While some inventions are not totally successful in achieving a useful result, that may not be enough to be rejected for a patent. In fact, unless the invention is found to have total incapacity, this is not a basis for rejection. Working prototypes are usually not required for granting a patent. Even utility claims that don’t seem credible can be supported with affidavit evidence or tests to demonstrate the utility. Therefore, just because an invention doesn’t work perfectly, doesn’t mean it won’t be granted a patent.
Are All Utility Inventions Patentable?
Not all utility inventions are able to be patented. Obviously, if a patent is already granted for a substantially similar invention, then no new patent will be granted. Also, the invention must be new, non-obvious, and useful. The protection of a utility patent extends to composition of matter (chemicals), processes, articles of manufacture, and machines.
The Worth of a Patent Attorney
While an attorney is not required in order to file a utility patent application, it is certainly advisable. The filing of an application and the research of patent search engines and databases are difficult when you are first learning how (and even long after). However, both of these are required in order to determine if your idea or invention can be patented.
Costly mistakes can be made if you fail to properly research the patenting process, its length, and its intricacies. This failure could even result in the loss of patent rights altogether. A patent attorney ensures you follow the process in the right order and meet all deadlines and requirements.
For example, did you know that the patent process begins with something called a provisional patent application? A patent attorney knows all about this unofficial application that will provide you with “Patent Pending” protections for a year. This is just one example of how a patent attorney can help with this complex process.
This is just one of many things that a patent attorney knows how and when to do. Unless you are an exceptionally detail-oriented, highly organized, have plenty of free time to devote to one project, and possess the writing skills necessary to adequately articulate your invention, you should consider hiring a patent attorney. It may just be the best money you ever spend.
If you need help with a patent or patent licensing, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law, and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with, or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.