The business world moves at a fast pace in the 21st century. Engineers, scientists and tech experts always are coming up with new inventions, products and processes to gain an advantage in the marketplace. For those who want to become entrepreneurs and benefit from these innovations, they may want to get a patent to protect their intellectual property.
However, what steps are involved in the patent process? Where should entrepreneurs begin?
Patents: Step 1
The first step in the patent process is determining if your invention or innovation can be patented. You will need to decide if your innovation qualifies for a utility patent, design patent or plant patent. Most of those seeking patents apply for utility patents, which protect an invention, product or process. Design patents protect just a product’s design, not its function. Plant patents are for newly engineered plant species.
Patents: Step 2
You also will need to consult an experienced intellectual property attorney. An intellectual property attorney can conduct a patent search to ensure someone else doesn’t hold a patent for something similar to your invention, new product feature or process. An intellectual property attorney can advise you on what type of patent to seek and prepare your patent application.
Patents: Step 3
Once you have applied for a patent, an intellectual property attorney can answer any questions the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has about your patent paperwork. Usually, it takes about 25 months for the patent examiner to approve a patent. You can appeal if the patent examiner rejects your patent application.
Patents: Step 4
Once the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approves your patent, your intellectual property attorney will help you defend your intellectual property you become aware of someone infringing on your patent. Your attorney also can manage your patent, ensuring to pay maintenance fees for it when needed.
The patent process is complex and can feel overwhelming for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Understanding the steps involved and working closely with an intellectual property attorney will help you navigate the process and help ensure you receive the patent you are seeking.