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What you need to know about patent applications

A patent is a legal right of an inventor to own his or her design or invention. This blog will serve as a brief introduction to what patents are, their main categories and knowing what can be patented.

There are three different types of patents. Utility patents are assigned to machines, substances or algorithms that have been invented or engineered. Design patents are granted for the way something looks, whether it is an object like a laptop or a logo. Plant patents are assigned to the right to reproduce living organisms through asexual reproduction.

What can be patented?

Two main criteria are given for patent qualification -- they must be "novel" and "non-obvious". Therefore, it should require a high level of skill and be somewhat niche. They must also be invented -- naturally occurring substances that are discovered cannot be the subject of a patent. Ideas or concepts can not be patented either.

Applying for a patent

Copyrights can arise automatically, but patents do not. Patents must be applied for by the inventor within one year of the public unveiling of the invention. Usually the inventor makes a preliminary patent search to see if his or her patent application will be possible. The inventor will then submit an application and fee to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If granted, another fee will be paid and then the government will publish an official description of the patent.

Legal patent advice

Patent law and the applications surrounding it can be a complicated process. It is important to seek trusted legal guidance to help you with your application.

Source: Find Law, "What is a patent?," accessed July 19, 2017

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