Written By Attorney Ray Galasso

When Do You Need a Patent?

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison

When you find the way that does work, a U.S.patent can offer legal protection and legitimacy to your idea/invention. If you have an idea/invention that is commercially viable, you may want to do a patent search and seek the advice of an attorney.

Are there different kinds of patents? 

A utility patent legally protects a new, original, useful, and non-obvious article of manufacture, process, composition of matter, or machine. Utility patents are best suited for functional inventions, such as gadgets, tools, or inventions with electrical or mechanical parts. If your proposed idea/invention is primarily functional, you may need a utility patent, which provides patented protection for up to twenty (20) years.

Design patents would be used if your proposed idea/invention is an aesthetic improvement on an existing product, such as a wrench with a new shape. One way to legally protect yourself and your proposed idea is through a proper patent, and if your proposed idea is primarily decorative, aesthetic, or ornamental you may need a design patent, which provides patented protection for up to fourteen (14) years.

What are the benefits of a patent?

A patent can provide a sense of legitimacy to your proposed idea/invention that will ensure that you are able to attract potential business partners. A patent can also protect your proposed idea/invention through legal means, preventing anyone from manufacturing, selling, or otherwise profiting from your proposed idea/invention.

Some other things to think about:

Are you clearly documenting your idea or have you filed a disclosure document with the US Patent and Trademark Office?

Do you need to file a provisional patent application that can extend your time to file a patent if you need some time?

Don’t wait too long. Once you’ve publicly disclosed your idea/invention, under U.S.law, a one-year time clock starts ticking and you don’t want to lose the opportunity to file a patent to protect your idea/invention.

It is important to understand the process of patenting your proposed idea/invention before you begin.  If you are or have developed a product (or are thinking about it) and want to protect your idea/invention, please contact us and we would be happy to talk with you about the process of obtaining a patent.