Securing a patent is important for inventors as they need to bar other people from copying, selling, or using their inventory for a certain period of time. With patent law, investors feel secure and protected from fraudsters who might want to use their unique ideas for their own personal gain without giving the inventor any credit.
If you’re an inventor, you must understand that your patent may not be secure until it is filed, reviewed, approved. The U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is charged with patent approval.
The USPTO only issues a limited number of patents with only one patent per inventory lasting for a period of between 14 to 20 years. You can secure a patent in two ways; one is to get the patent yourself from the USPTO or get permission from the current patent holder.
Before you can successfully secure a patent, here are what needs to be considered.
Determine what is patentable
You cannot just come up with any kind of inventory and say that you want to secure a patent for it. For an inventory to qualify as a patent, it should be novel and non-obvious. A novel inventory in that which is not similar to any other inventory in either one or more parts.
It must not have been sold, used publicly, or already patented by another inventor in a period of one year of your application. A patent is non-obvious if a skilled person will consider it unique or surprising development.
You cannot patent anything that is discovered in nature even if it’s unique. All naturally occurring events, ideas, or products are not patentable even if you’re the person behind the discovery.
Other things that are not patentable include fundamental truths, calculation methods, mathematical formulas, and abstract principles. You can, however, patent the process for arriving at such formulas. Moreover, you cannot patent a suggestion or an idea. Any inventory that is illegal or has no legal purpose will not be granted a patent.
The Usefulness of the Inventory
Before you can be granted a patent for a certain inventory, you must be able to prove that your invention is useful. It must have a beneficial use and be usable in ways that can generate some profit.
For your inventory to qualify into a utility patent, it should fall into categories such as machine, process, the composition of matter, manufacture, or an improvement of any of these. There are also unique items that are made by humans and the process for making those items that are patentable.
Computer software and hardware, medical devices, drugs, formulas and processes, jewelry, designs, etc. fall in the category of patentable items. So if your inventory is patentable, that is, unique and non-obvious and is useful, you can then go ahead and apply for patent protection.
You must understand that a patent is different from the copyright and it does not arise automatically if you don’t apply for it. You should contact an attorney to help you make a preliminary patent search to determine if you can proceed with the application. This should happen within one year of publishing or disclosing your invention to the public.
The first way to secure a patent is by filing a provisional patent application. This is essential for a preliminary version of the patent application. At this stage, you’ll not get the patent yet but have certain rights for the patent which you’ll get full access to at a later date. At this period, you can claim ‘patent-pending’ and have a right to sue anybody for using the patent.
Final Patent Application
Getting a complete patent right entails two processes. This could be turning the provisional application into a final patent or filing for the final patent without passing through the preliminary patent application.
To avoid wasting time and going through different processes that you don’t understand well, you should contact an attorney to help you out. If your patent qualifies as a novel and useful inventory, the USPTO will issue you with the patent. The application process takes 18 months or more.
Another way to secure a patent is through a license agreement. This entails negotiating a license agreement with the patent holder to use an existing patent. You can either get an exclusion or nonexclusive right which permits you to use the patent. The licensing agreement gives you the same right as that of a person who secured the patent right from the USPTO.
Finally, you can secure a patent by purchasing the patent from the current holder. The patent owner has the right to sell the patent to anyone at any time without restrictions whatsoever. So, if you want to secure the rights to a patent that is already owned by someone else, you’ll have to purchase it. The parties involved can come up with a purchase agreement. The agreement has terms and conditions which you need to meet to become the new owner of the invention.
Contact a Patent Lawyer
Getting a patent right is a legal way to secure your inventory, which might be highly profitable hence greatly coveted by others. You should, however, take all the necessary precautions when it comes to patent because you can easily lose it.
A patent can sometimes be so complex as to raise complicated legal matters. When this happens, the only person you’ll have to rely on is a patent attorney. Paying a lawyer some fees to get a patent right is usually a wise decision since lawyers have all the legal expertise which is necessary to protect your rights.