Experienced Patent Preparation Lawyer Helping Clients Through the Patent Process Across the United States
If you have had a great idea or invented something, you want to make sure that you hold the rights to that idea or invention. The way to go about getting protection for your rights as a creator is to get a patent. There are many steps involved in the patent application process, and these steps can be complicated and time-consuming. You want to focus on your new idea—developing, marketing, and branding—and don’t want to spend hours, days, or weeks working on a patent application. Our experienced patent preparation lawyer at Thompson Patent Law can help you through the process and take some of the burden off of your shoulders. Call our office today at (512) 649-1046.
How Do I Know if My Idea Qualifies for a Patent?
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has defined 5 qualifications for subject matter to be patentable. The first is that the item or idea falls under the U.S. Congress‘s definition of what is patentable. This includes any “new and useful” process, machine, manufactured item, or composition of matter. It does not include any natural processes. So, for example, you could not patent gravity. Another qualification is that the invention must be new or novel. It must also show utility—in other words, it must be useful. Furthermore, the invention must be “non-obvious.” This means that the invention cannot be the next logical step from something that is already patented. This question of “non-obviousness” is often where there is a lot of back-and-forth between the USPTO and the applicant. Finally, the invention must not have been announced to the public in any way before the patent application was filed. If you published an article about your invention, for example, you could not later apply for a patent on the idea.
What Types of Patents Are There?
Patents fall into three general categories. There are utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. Utility patents are the most common and cover processes, such as business practices, engineering practices, apps, or other software; machines; manufactured objects; and “composition of matter,” which covers things like chemical compounds or pharmaceuticals. Design patents cover decorative designs that do not have a physical function beyond ornamentation, such as artwork, a fabric or wallpaper pattern, or a logo design. Design patents are sometimes obtained in addition to a utility patent if there are visual aspects of the patented item that need protection in addition to its function. Plant patents cover new plants or seeds that have been created through sexual or asexual reproduction. These are usually new hybrids or other new plants created through scientific experimentation. These are the least common patents issued. Utility patents, once granted, last 20 years, while design and plant patents each last 17 years.
What is a Provisional Patent?
For most patents, the inventor or owner of the idea is allowed 12 months from the date of first publicizing the product or idea to file for patent protection. One way to extend that limited filing period is to file for a provisional patent. Doing so extends the allowable filing period for an additional 12 months. This can give you time to prepare your application for a non-provisional patent. If you do not file for a regular patent during this additional 12 months, however, you can lose the opportunity to continue the patent prosecution process and to get a patent.
A skilled and knowledgeable patent prosecution attorney from Thompson Patent Law can give you sound legal advice about which option might be best in your particular case, and can then guide you through the process as quickly and painlessly as possible. Call Thompson Patent Law today at (512) 649-1046 and get the protection you need for your intellectual property before someone beats you to it.
How Do I Know if My Idea or Invention has Already Been Patented by Someone Else?
One of the most important steps early in the patent preparation process is to determine that your idea or invention is truly “new or novel,” that someone else hasn’t already patented an idea similar to or the same as yours, and that your patent application passes the test of non-obviousness. This is accomplished by conducting a patent search (or patentability search), which seeks out any publicly-available documents, called “prior art,” to determine that your idea or invention is different enough from any other patented ideas or inventions and that your subject matter is not the next logical step in a process that has already been patented (the non-obviousness test). Conducting a patent search can be a tedious and detail-oriented task. Let one of our accomplished patent attorneys help you with the process. Call Thompson Patent Law today at (512) 649-1046.
Is it Worth It to Hire a Patent Preparation Attorney?
Preparing to file for a patent application requires a lot of research and time. If you are not well-versed in the laws and regulations surrounding the granting of patents, you may miss steps that put your patent application in jeopardy. You need to protect your great idea and invention before someone copies it. The knowledge and experience of a licensed patent attorney can help put you on the road to success.