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Why You Should Invent

There are essentially three types of patents which you should be aware of — utility patents, design patents, and provisional patent applications.

A utility patent applies to inventions which have a “functional” aspect (in other words, the invention accomplishes a utilitarian result — it actually “does” something).In other words, the thing which is different or “special” about the invention must be for a functional purpose.To be eligible for utility patent protection, an invention must also fall within at least one of the following “statutory categories” as required under 35 USC 101. Keep in mind that just about any physical, functional invention will fall into at least one of these categories, so you need not be concerned with which category best describes your invention.

A) Machine: think of a “machine” as something which accomplishes a task due to the interaction of its physical parts, such as a can opener, an automobile engine, a fax machine, etc.It is the combination and interconnection of these physical parts with which we are concerned and which are protected by the patent.

B) Article of manufacture: “articles of manufacture” should be thought of as things which accomplish a task just like a machine, but without the interaction of various physical parts.While articles of manufacture and machines may seem to be similar in many instances, you can distinguish the two by thinking of articles of manufacture as more simplistic things which typically have no moving parts. A paper clip, for example is an article of manufacture.It accomplishes a task (holding papers together), but is clearly not a “machine” since it is a simple device which does not rely on the interaction of various parts.

C) Process: a way of doing something through one or more steps, each step interacting in some way with a physical element, is known as a “process.” A process can be a new method of manufacturing a known product or can even be a new use for a known product. Board games are typically protected as a process.

D) Composition of matter: typically chemical compositions such as pharmaceuticals, mixtures, or compounds such as soap, concrete, paint, plastic, and the like can be patented as “compositions of InventHelp.” Food items and recipes are often protected in this manner.

A design patent protects the “ornamental appearance” of an object, rather than its “utility” or function, which is protected by a utility patent. In other words, if the invention is a useful object that has a novel shape or overall appearance, a design patent might provide the appropriate protection. To avoid infringement, a copier would have to produce a version that does not InventHelp“substantially similar to the ordinary observer.”They cannot copy the shape and overall appearance without infringing the design patent.

A provisional patent application is a step toward obtaining a utility patent, where the invention might not yet be ready to obtain a utility patent. In other words, if it seems as though the invention cannot yet obtain a utility patent, the provisional application may be filed in the Patent Office to establish the inventor’s priority to the invention.As the inventor continues to develop the invention and make further developments which allow a utility patent to be obtained, then the inventor can “convert” the provisional application to a full utility application. This later application is “given credit” for the date when the InventHelp application was first filed.

A provisional patent has several benefits:

A) Patent Pending Status: The most well-known benefit of a Provisional Patent Application is that it allows the inventor to immediately begin marking the product “patent pending.” This has a time-proven tremendous commercial value, similar to the “as seen on TV” label which is applied to many products. A product bearing both of these phrases clearly possesses a commercial marketing advantage right from the start.

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