The Road to Patent Registration – Part I

The road to patent registration can be long and confusing – especially for a first-time inventor. Below is Part I of a broad overview of the major steps in the journey to patent registration.

Step 1: Determine what Type(s) of Intellectual Property Provides the Best Protection for your Situation

“Question Finger 2” by Josh Tasman from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

First-time inventors are often unsure about the type and level of protection is provided by each kind of intellectual property, or what they need to best protect themselves:  patent, trademark, copyright, trade secret, or some combination of these. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) provides some background information to help you with this step, as do we:

Best Protection for your Business – Patent or Trade Secret

Patent vs Trademark

Every business has intellectual property, and determining the best way to protect it can be complicated. We often recommend that entrepreneurs and inventors start with a consultation to evaluate what types of intellectual property they have and their best options for protecting it.

Step 2: Determine if You Even Need a Patent?

There are many reasons why an inventor might consider filing a patent application – or not.

Step 3: Determine if Your Invention is Patentable

Not every invention is unique enough to be capable of getting a patent. In general, the first step to determining whether your invention can be patented is to do a patent search. You can even do your own patent search using these strategies.

Step 4: Determine What Type of Patent You Need

“Patent Application for Parasol Attachment” by Michael Neubert from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

In general, there are two different kinds of patents: utility patents and design patents. (There are also plant patents, but most people don’t need one of those.)

A utility patent is for processes, machines, compositions of matter, or any new useful improvement of an existing utility patent.  By far, most patent applications filed at the USPTO are utility applications. A design patent is used to protect new, original, and ornamental designs.  We blogged about these patent types here:

Step 5: Initial Application Considerations

Once you know what type of patent you need, there are a few additional questions to address before drafting the application, including:

More to Come in Part II

In Part II, we will look at the steps involved in (1) drafting and filing the application, (2) prosecuting the application and (3) maintaining the patent registration.

If you need more information about filing for or obtaining patent, please send us a message. Our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience and are licensed in Arizona, Connecticut, and New York. We can handle federal intellectual property matters in any U.S. state and assist with international matters. For even more information, sure to connect with us on Facebook.

Post by patent attorney Joseph Meaney, edited by social media attorney Ruth Carter.

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