What Is a Patent, and How to Use It

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Intellectual property theft is nothing new and is quite common with innovations and creative works. This is why people go the extra mile to protect their inventions, so their product is solely theirs. Some of these inventors living in places like the U.S. even go as far as hiring Columbus patent attorneys for their ideas.

If you are an inventor, then patenting is something you should know about, and it will benefit you in the long run. When people fail to protect their innovation, they stand a chance of losing the right to solely make and own the invention. 

Since you are here, take your time to read through to know what a patent is and how to use it.

What is a patent?

You are probably familiar with the word patent if you are an inventor or innovator. A patent is an exclusive right to own an invention that prevents others from replicating, using, selling, importing, or distributing without permission over a period, which could be up to 20 years, depending on the type it is.

Usually, government agencies are in charge of approving patent applications. You don’t have to wait till the creative idea is ready before you file for a patent. You can file for a less formal patent application till you perfect your creation.

With the application, you have up to a year to perfect your invention or innovation and determine commercial viability. Once you are done, you can update the patent application from pending and enjoy the ownership for as long as provided by the patent.

During this period, you can sell and give ownership of the product to anyone you want. However, once the patent expires, your invention becomes public, and anyone can use, sell, distribute, and market it without bearing any consequences.

Don’t get it confused here; a patent is different from copyright and trademark. A patent mainly protects innovators, while copyright applies to creative works and gives the owners of intellectual properties the right to make copies, reproduce, and perform their works, which can be up to 120 years.

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On the other hand, a trademark protects a phrase, word, design, symbol, or logo that identifies a person, product, or service and prevents others from using it. But if your idea is an invention, getting a patent with the help of patent attorneys is the right thing.

There are different types of patents available, and you need to familiarize yourself with them, so you know which applies to your innovation. 

3 types of patents

  • Design patent

Design patents only cover new, original, and ornamental looks for manufactured products with practical uses. Basically, it protects the outlook and design of a product. For a patent to protect your use of a product’s design, it must be unique, original, and useful. Design patent laws have changed over the years.

For example, if you filed for a design patent before March 13, 2015, the patent would cover the design for 14 years. However, for patents filed after that date, design patents now last for 15 years. However, there are no maintenance fees involved in the design patent.  

  • Plant patent

Plant patent applies to inventors who create, produce, or discover a unique plant variety that can be reproduced. New rose and apple varieties have been protected by the plant variety. 

However, this is the least commonly issued patent. But if you were to discover a new plant variety, the plant patent makes it solely yours for 20 years. In addition, maintenance fees don’t apply to this patent.  

  • Utility patent

A utility patent covers innovation that includes new useful processes, machines, the composition of matters, and more. For example, this patent covers inventions like computers, pharmaceuticals, machines, business processes, and more. 

This patent is the most common of the three, and the document usually contains the machine, system, or process works, protecting the inventor and preventing others from using it. Furthermore, this patent lasts up to 20 years from the time it was filed, and it includes maintenance fees.

How to use a patent

After your invention has been patented, you get to enjoy the profits of your hard work. Patenting your invention allows you to:

  • Claim damages

Once you have gotten a patent for your invention, no one has the right to use, sell, or reproduce it. If someone out of ignorance does that, you can claim damages for the infringement of profiting from your invention without your permission. 

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Additionally, you can claim damages if you have substantial evidence to prove that a new invention is very similar to your original idea.  

  • Grant a license

You can also grant other people licenses to reproduce your invention and profit from it. Whatever the conditions involved in the agreement are up to you. However, it will be best if you involve an attorney in the process, so nothing goes wrong in the future.

  • Sell 

As a patent holder, you can sell, import, and distribute your invention for as much as you wish. Patenting, generally, helps inventors enjoy their profit and showcase their innovativeness. It is good to go through the patenting process with an attorney, but before you do that, ensure you check that your innovation is novel, useful, and non-obvious. 

The uniqueness and usefulness of your idea make it viable for patenting. Moving on, you need to check through the trademark and patent office database to confirm the uniqueness of your innovation and whether no one has patented a similar invention.

Your invention shouldn’t also be an improvement of an already existing creation. You need to pay some fees and submit some documents to apply for a patent, and the documents may include the descriptions, drawings, and claims of the idea to be patented. 

Rather than go through the process alone, you should hire a patent attorney for their expertise, to provide legal advice, and help you maximize your product’s full rights. 

Conclusion

When you have a unique idea, it is only right that you who put in the brain work and hard work enjoy the profits, and this is why you need to patent your innovation. Once you have confirmed that your idea is unique and useful, you should start considering how to apply for a patent, and highlighting a list of Columbus patent attorneys will be very helpful.

With the sole rights to your innovation, you can prevent others from profiting off you and sell and issue licenses up to the 15 or 20 years duration lapses, depending on your patent type.

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