Patenting Your Product
Tips on how to obtain a patent to protect your creation
As a small-business owner and an entrepreneur, you may have a variety of ideas for products that could be useful to individuals around the world. Once you have a working invention, it's crucial to obtain a patent to prevent others from copying your idea, so you can enjoy the full fruits of your labor. Here are some helpful tips to guide you through the process of getting your product patented.
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, "a U.S. patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor(s), issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office."
Patent attorney Christopher Taravella states that a patent allows the patent owner to exclude other people from using his or her invention. When you hear "patent," you might think of a unique gadget with lots of bells and whistles, but patents are available for more than just machines. Taravella goes on to say that anything new, useful and "non-obvious" can be patented, including a machine, an apparatus, a plant design, or a process or method. The majority of patents today are, in fact, improvements on some other preexisting product.
If you are unsure as to whether your product can be patented, you can refer to the list provided by the United States Patent and Trademark Office found at http://www.uspto.gov. Some things that can't be patented include:
- Laws of nature
- Abstract ideas
- Physical phenomena
- Literary, musical, dramatic or artistic works (these can be protected with a copyright but not a patent)
- Inventions that are either offensive to public morality or not useful
If you have already done research about obtaining a patent, you may think that you need a patent attorney to help guide you through the process. This can be expensive, and according to Inc.com, if you follow the proper steps carefully, you can win a patent for your invention all on your own. Here are some tips to get you started.
- Describe your invention on paper and delegate a few trusted friends to sign as witnesses. If you need to build and test your invention, be sure to document all these efforts.
- Once you have a working invention, you must decide if it is actually protectable. This requires a lot of common sense and a little knowledge of the law. You will need to determine if your invention fits into one of the categories stipulated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's categories (refer to the link above).
Decide if your invention qualifies for a patent. This will require thorough research of existing U.S. (and possibly foreign) patents that fall into the same category as your invention. During your research, ask yourself two questions:
- Is your invention different in some important way from all existing patents?
- Would a person with ordinary skills consider your invention surprising?
- If you find that your patent stands out, it is time to draft and file the patent application one step at a time. Again, these steps can be found at http://www.uspto.gov.
Creating a new product that is different from anything else in the world is exciting. It is important to make sure you follow all the necessary steps to patent your product carefully so that you can enjoy the benefits of your idea.
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