When you come up with a new invention, product or process, you may want to get a patent to protect your idea or innovation. You may not know though what kind of patent you’ll need though. Or if you need more than one to protect the value of your intellectual property.
- utility patents
- design patents
- plant patents
When you think of a patent, you most likely think of a utility patent. The USPTO gives utility patents to inventions, machines, compositions of matter or an innovative useful process. You may need multiple utility patents for a new product, such as:
- one to cover the process of producing the product
- one for the product itself
- one for any specialized part integral to the invention’s function
- any new chemical used to produce the product
Design patents apply only to new and original ornamental design for a new product or invention. Design patents don’t protect an item’s structural or functional features – only a new product’s appearance.
The USPTO awards plant patents for the breeding of or discovery of a new plant, such as a new breed of apple or rosebush.
You may want to seek out a patent opinion from an intellectual property attorney when considering what type of patent to seek. With a patent opinion, you will know how likely it is you can receive the patent you want. You may find out you should apply for multiple patents for your product. You also may discover another entrepreneur or business already has a patent on an innovation similar to yours.
Seeking a patent opinion can help you avoid trying to receive a patent that the USPTO isn’t likely to approve or seeking a patent for something that isn’t as novel as you think. With a patent opinion, you will have a better understanding of what your next steps in securing a patent should be.