What Is Patent In Intellectual Property?
America is the land of innovation. Throughout our great history, American minds have been responsible for some of the world’s greatest inventions. From lunar modules to laser printers, PCs to Post-It notes, cellphones and voicemail, and so much more. Wi-Fi? Why not? Thanks to Wi-Fi, an American invention, you can read this article, as well as anything else you desire, from nearly any library or source in the world! And, ‘Why not?’ is the question American innovators have been posing since the birth of America itself.
America is a shining star, and a great place to launch a dream, and for the better part of our 243-year history, America, or more specifically, the United States of America, has been a draw for some of the greatest minds of the world. In fact, as a nation of immigrants, we are comprised of great thinkers and doers, a people who strive for more and never settle for less than the best.
As great innovators, creators and inventors, we need a means to keep our intellectual property safe, a means to protect our hard work and research. And that… is where patent law enters the equation. From Silicon Valley to Silicon Alley, and the tiny garages and basements all across our great nation, Americans are working, inventing, innovating, and pushing business and industry forward with their new ideas and products. Patent law helps these great minds to protect their years of hard work. But what is a patent really?
Patents: Explained | What Qualifies? What Doesn’t? | San Francisco Patent Attorneys
Simply defined, a patent is a government authority or license that confers a right or title for a determined period, especially pertaining to the sole right of a creator to exclude others from making, using, and/or selling an invention. But how do you classify or determine what features factor into the decision to deem something worthy of a patent? To understand this question we need to consider the three types of patents and what they stand for/protect. Patents are classified in three categories: utility, design, and plant.
Utility patents are the kind of patents that come to mind when we think of great inventions of great use. Utility patents, in fact, are based on the usefulness of a product and as such a utility patent protects that product’s functional elements, essentially the ‘what makes this product unique and useful’ — its functionality.
Design differs from function. A design patent protects the look and style of a creator’s object, product, etc. Consider the design of products you own yourself, from big-dollar items such as cars to smaller gadgets such as your smartphone. There are often elements that create a bold, exciting look that a manufacturer will want to protect from copycatters who would seek to ‘knock off’ the design elements.
Plant patents might conjure up images of industrial plants or factories, but a plant patent is simply a patent that covers any new type of flowering plant, one that can be reproduced via an asexual means. In nature, plants need pollen, but plant patents apply to new plants that can be reproduced without it.
So How Do You Go About Securing A Patent?
To secure a patent, first you’ll need to decide if your product, gadget, tech innovation, IP, etc. is patentable. Ask yourself the following questions:
Is it NEW?
Is it USEFUL?
Is it UNIQUE?
Let’s consider the above.
Is it New?
While we all understand the idea of something being ‘new,’ it can sometimes prove difficult to establish that your product, gadget, tech innovation, IP, etc. (we’ll call it ‘product’ from here on out for simplicity) is truly ‘new.’ In patent law, much attention is given to the explanation of what came before your product. All that came before, from other inventors/creators, etc. is considered to be ‘prior art’ and your product cannot be directly or implicitly disclosed in any previously debuted ‘prior art.’ Consult with your patent attorney to review the nuanced details of patent law and the definition of what constitutes a ‘new’ product.
Is it Useful?
Is your product useful? The concept of a product’s usefulness is often described as its ‘utility requirement,’ and unlike the concept of ‘new,’ it is easier to establish. Does your product solve a problem? If so, your product is more than likely ‘useful,’ and as such it would meet the utility requirement.
Is it Unique?
What is the definition of unique? It may be easiest to answer this by thinking of your product in regard to its obviousness. In order for your product to receive a patent it must not be ‘obvious.’ Many products or inventions, creations, ideas, etc. are in some ways, a combination of things that have come before. It is rare that anything is truly, shockingly new, brought into this world without the use of other items or ideas, at least in some small way. However, the concept of uniqueness or simply, non-obviousness, must pass the basic tests. So to combine past products or items into something that has a new usefulness that didn’t exist before might be just the key to proving that your product passes the ‘not obvious’ test. Consider the example of the spork. Whomever thought of the spork was probably aware that the fork already existed, as did the spoon, but in combining them and creating a spork we are provided with a new product that exceeds the functionality of the fork and the spoon independently. The spork solves two problems in one product. So when you consider your product when speaking with your patent attorney or copyright attorney, consider the concept of the spork. Has your product created a new use? Has it, through its very creation, solved a problem that was not previously solved by other products? There are many questions to consider, and your patent attorney in San Francisco can help you answer these pertinent questions as you work your way towards a legitimate patent.
As your business seeks to establish patents, you’ll need to consult with an experienced patent attorney to ensure that you’re not spinning your wheels, heading down a road that will never end in patent success. Talk to your patent attorney early in the process and you’ll be on the right track from the beginning, which will give you the best chance to establish successful legal patents that will earn you significant revenue, and… protect your hard work and research time.
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