A patent is a right of property granted by the United States to an inventor for his invention which prevents and excludes other people from using, making, offering for sale or selling the invention. Only the actual inventor of a product/invention can file for a patent.
There are some restrictions on what type of products can be patented. Only utility patents are provide for something that is new, not obvious and useful for:
Articles of manufacture
Compositions of matter
Improvements to any of the above.
There are things that can also not be patented and they include:
Any laws of nature
Literary, musical, artistic or dramatic works – however they can be copyright protected.
Or, inventions which are:
Offensive to public morality
Patented products must be:
· Not obvious
· A novel idea
· Sufficiently described or enabled
· Claimed by the inventor in clear terms.
The first step in figuring out if you need a patent is to see if it qualifies and if there is no other thing like it already patented. You will have to search all of the previous public disclosures to figure out if your invention has already been patented. Then you need to familiarize yourself with the basics of the patenting process. The best thing to do is to hire a patent attorney to help you with all the processes involved in applying for a patent. However you can muddle through the process on your own, including doing your own search for other patents that may be the same as, or conflict with the one you propose. It is important to note that it is quite difficult to do the search and file for a patent on your own; your best bet is to hire an attorney to help you with the search and filing.
A patent that has been filed after June 8, 1995 for utility and plant patents are granted for a term that ends 20 years after the first filing date and is subject to maintenance fees. Design patents last for 14 years from the date the patent is granted and has no maintenance fees.
A patent attorney is the best person to help you with all of your patent processing needs, including gaining a full patent, filing for the patent and above all, searching for other existing patents. The patent process is long and arduous and quite complex and daunting for someone who is not a patent lawyer. A lawyer can help you out immensely with the process and ensure that it is done right so that you don’t have to worry about patent infringement or copyright infringement on other people’s inventions. Infringing on a patent can be quite severe if the other person, people or company can prove that you did not do your due diligence to find an existing patent, or that you found it and ignored it. The penalties that are awarded by the courts can literally ruin you for life financially and socially.