From our experience, several factors come into play when choosing the best patent services for an invention. But from the lot, the most crucial factor is knowing if your product is patentable from the start.
So how can you know if your product is patentable?
It's simple; learn the different types of patents. Then check if your inventions fit into the profile of any of them.
However, there's a little hiccup. There is a lot of confusion about the defined types of patents. Some say it's ten, but the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) says it's three.
But don't be confused; this article will clear the air. It will help you choose the best patent type for your invention.
Shall we begin?
What Are the Different Types of Patents?
According to the USPTO, there are three types of patents. They are:
- Utility patent
- Design patent
- Plant patent
Undoubtedly, the utility patent is the most filed. In fact, it is what an average person thinks a patent is all about.
So, what is a utility patent?
A utility patent explains the processes and systems of a new machine. Ideally, it simplifies the technical jargon to help the end-users use the "machine."
As long as your product borders along the lines of a new discovery, improvement of existing processes, or article of manufacture, you can file a utility patent.
But with the recent waves of internet-focused and genetic engineering inventions, the lines of what utility patent entails are soon expanding.
According to USPTO, design entails the physical appearance of an article of manufacture. With that definition, a design patent automatically prioritizes the shape and visual characteristics of a product.
In other words, if you get a design patent, it means you're filing claims regarding the shape and visuals of your product. But the lines are not always clear.
How can the "design of a product" differ from how it is used? Is a design patent really different from a utility patent?
●Content of the patent document: unlike a utility patent, the content of a design patent is mainly graphical. You can hardly navigate the latter because it's filled with images and a few texts.
●Primary aim: utility patents protect the function and usability of your invention. On the other hand, design patents focus on appeal.
Ultimately, if your invention's ingenuity lies in its function and look, it's best to get utility and design patents.
Plant patents might not be as popular as utility and design patents. However, it is equally crucial, especially if you're a horticulturist.
Like the name, plant patents help innovators in the horticulture space protect their inventions. However, there are a few noteworthy rules.
●The discoveries must be asexually reproduced.
●Only algae and macro-fungi can be considered as extensions to the rule. Bacteria are out of the mix.
Outside the rules, plant patents have longer expiry dates. You can own it for up to 20 years. Even better, you can pass the ownership to an heir or assignee.
Aside from utility, design, and plant patents, there is another type of patent. It is called a provisional patent.
Unlike the three well-known patent types, provisional patents are less formal. In fact, it is more like a proof to show that an invention is already being worked on.
So, how does this "provisional patent" work?
Say you discovered a way to mix flour half the USUAL time with a mixer. Now, your discovery might need you to manufacture a new machine entirely.
But will this new idea be a hit with bakers and households? Should you find more ways to improve it?
While thinking about your new idea, you don't want another genius to claim and patent the invention. At the same time, you want to take your time.
In such a case, a provisional patent can help. It is usually for a year. Within that period, you can work on your idea without intrusion. If, after a year, you don't want to pursue the invention, the patent will expire.
So, do you need a provisional patent?
A provisional patent can save you money in the long run. It will come in handy for ideas that need perfection.
You can file all the four patents for your invention. Yes, such outlay might be expensive, but no law will stop you.
However, we will advise you to use all the options for an idea you are sure will make waves. And even when you are assured, start with a provisional patent. Within the 1-year grace, market the product, pave the way for the eventual release, and add utility and design patent.
Lastly, and most importantly, always seek legal advice before you patent an invention. All the best!