If you are an inventor or have recently devised a very new adaptation or use of an existing item, it's important for you to understand what can and cannot be protected under existing intellectual property laws and how a patent might benefit you. There is more than one type of patent and it's crucial to be sure that you're opting for the most appropriate option for your needs. Therefore, when you're unclear as to the role of intellectual property law and how it might impact your use of a patent, it's a good idea to speak with a business law attorney to protect your rights as soon as possible.
Understanding The Basics Of A Patent
It will first be necessary to understand that patent laws exist in order to allow inventors rights to benefit from and exclusively sell, trade or otherwise benefit from their creation. Essentially, patent laws are why there are so many different versions of the same product, as seen everywhere from the cleaning aisle at the grocery store to an electronic store. The products might be a lot alike and provide similar functions, but the subtle differences are necessary so that each company sells a unique product while each patent is in place.
However, since there are so many different products in existence, there are three primary types of patents. It's best to be aware what type of patent your creation might need when you're speaking to a business lawyer for the first time about protecting the item in question.
Opting For A Utility Patent
A utility patent is the most common patent and is necessary when you have invented a new process, machine, manufacturing technique or if you have a new and unique way of using one of those items. It's important to note that if you have devised a new way of using or benefiting from an existing product, that the new use you are making possible must be something not already in use. In addition, it cannot be an obvious use of that product, even if that obvious use has been off-label until now.
For instance, you cannot get a patent for a water bottle used exclusively to spray at your cat when it's behaving inappropriately, even though a spray bottle for that specific use might not currently exist. Spraying water at cats to get them away from unapproved areas has occurred for many years, even if the side of the bottle makes no mention of it. However, if your idea was for a water bottle that could somehow spray only the offending cat, without risk of wetting down innocent bystanders, other animals or nearby electronics, you might benefit from a utility patent.
Earning A Design Patent
A design patent is available when you need to protect the image, style or design of your newest creation, as long as your new invention has a practical use. For example, a design patent is appropriate when you have an image for your company, product or service that you want to prevent others from using or mimicking, assuming that the item is useful in some way and not strictly ornamental. The icon associated with successful business are often grouped with that item for many years, as seen with some of the all but defunct arcade video games from the 1980's.
Some of those games are rarely played on the sophisticated gaming devices seen in homes now, but there was a generation of people who loved to play a little yellow creature fleeing from its enemies, while earning points for gobbling down power dots. Just as the image of Pac-Man in its various incarnations is distinct and memorable, protecting the unique image associated with your product or company is equally necessary. A business lawyer can help you to file for a design patent, assuming that your item is substantially different from similar items already in use.
Choosing A Plant Patent
A plant patent is only available to specific types of plant. You can apply for a plant patent if you've found or created a new type of asexually reproduced plant. The means of reproduction can be anything asexual, including layering, grafting, etc. However, the final product needs to be something entirely new, although it can be a previously unknown hybrid of existing plants.
In addition, when determining if you should request a patent, you should determine if your item is useful or valuable, as opposed to merely being a novelty. Other factors to consider are the retail cost of the unit in relation to its perceived value or use and whether you will benefit financially or personal from the sale or production of the plant. .
In conclusion, intellectual property is often used to describe a creation, idea for a creation or adaptation to an existing product for a radically different use. If you have created, devised, or adapted a product recently, it's best to be aware of the information shared above about patents when speaking with a business lawyer to protect your rights to your idea.