A patent protects an invention, process, or product that provides a new solution. For the invention to be covered by the patent, it must be innovative, unique, functional, and useful. Patent protection is usually given to innovations, products, technology, and compositions.
When a patent is awarded to an inventor or creator, they’re given an exclusive right that stops other parties from selling, making, or benefiting from the patent. It can be pretty hard to identify an invention that has the potential to provide huge profits, so firms tend to patent excessively.
Read on to find out what could be secured by a patent.
What does a patent protect?
Patents protect ideas or innovations, but they also go beyond this. Let’s say you invent new technology in Houston. You’d have to look for a patent attorney Houston TX has to offer, who would ensure that the idea is novel and provides a solid solution to any practical problem.
In addition, the invention must fulfill specific criteria for an idea to get protected through a patent. They are:
- It must be new. This means that the idea must not have been known to the public in any way or form before you file for an application.
- It must be an invention. The idea shouldn’t be so obvious to someone skilled in that particular field.
- It should apply to any industry. The invention has to fit and have the ability to be applied practically (not only theoretically) for production and industrial use.
Also added to the above, the invention must be among those categorized to be protected by a patent. There are some inventions that the USPTO doesn’t consider inventions, and thus, are not covered by a patent. They include:
- Discoveries like mathematical methods and scientific theories.
- Methods, instruction, and rules for mental activities such as games or for performing business.
- Aesthetic creations.
The following inventions listed below are part of the category listed as inventions, but are exempt from being protected by a patent for ethical or related reasons. Examples are:
- The invention of plant or animal species or other biological processes that lead to the creation of animals or plants.
- The human body and discoveries of its elements, such as a gene section.
- Surgical, treatment, and diagnostic procedures directly apply to an animal or human body.
- An invention that goes against public morality or order, such as embryos, genetic modifications, and cloning.
Patent application types
To get a patent, you must apply with the USPTO. There are several patent types. They include:
- Original applications are for new inventions. It’s not tied to or based on other patents in the USPTO database.
- Continuation applications, as opposed to the above, are usually tied to an existing application. This application is meant to modify a previous one in cases where there’s been a delay in the processing.
- Continuation-in-part applications comprise added subject matter. It’s usually used to protect improvements added to an original invention.
- Divisional applications occur when the USPTO concludes that a patent application is too broad for a single invention.
- A provisional application is a preliminary application. It’s used to get a filing date for your invention.
Patent application parts
The patent application usually covers a drawing or specification of the invention, an oath sworn by the inventor stating they are the first person to create the idea, and a filing fee. In addition, patent application parts usually include invention summaries and a preferred embodiments description.
Other parts include an accompanying drawings description, the background of the invention, the subject area or field of the invention, the title of the application, and cross-references of related applications.
These different parts are for several purposes, which are:
- Title: An invention title gives the court reviewer or the patent examiner a clue about what the invention does or is. Therefore, an inventor must carefully ensure the title fits the invention.
- Cross-references: Cross-references are close references to other applications. They show that the application has similarities with those pending, like a divisional application, continuation-in-part, or case of continuation.
- Field: A patent field is the technical subject area where the invention will be used. The examiners use a patent field to determine if the invention is a novelty or nonobvious. This means the invention must not have been previously made.
- Art background: This is quite similar to the field. In this section, the inventor explains to the examiner which problem(s) the invention solves or any improvements it can make.
- Summary: Here, the inventor explains the invention’s advantages and characteristics. These usually are related to the issues or problems discussed in the art background section. The summary will also show how the invention is intended to be used. For the invention to be patented, it has to work. Therefore, functions and capacity cannot be speculative.
- Drawings: A significant part of a patent application usually includes the invention drawings. It usually consists of the drawing description and also the viewer’s perspective when the drawing is observed.
- Preferred embodiments description: Since the public must use the invention after its expiration, the inventor must clearly state the invention-creation process and usage. This is what is covered in the description of the preferred embodiments. Also added are the parts or materials used in making the invention and an accurate way to use them.
- Claims: The claims let the patent office and the court know what the patent protects and if it is patentable. In this section, the inventor explains the invention structure and what it achieves. This section must be carefully written so it doesn’t over-describe or under-describe its functions. When too broad, the patent office might reject it, and the inventor won’t get full rights covered when it’s too narrow.
- Abstract: This is the last section of the patent. It’s a single paragraph that summarizes the invention. It contains the novel features of the invention, and when the patent is issued, it’s displayed on the first page. The application fee usually varies based on the type of application.
In the U.S., an inventor applies for a patent by filing a patent application with the USPTO. When a patent is issued, it protects the inventor and ensures that others cannot make, sell, or profit from it in any form or manner.
The application consists of a detailed drawing, the invention title, a detailed and accurate innovation description, claims about its use and functions, and the invention development and concept.