Information for the Novice Inventor (courtesy of YouInventIt.com)

A patent is a property right granted by the government allowing a patent owner the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or importing the invention covered by the patent. If somebody wants to make, use or sell the invention covered by the patent, they must obtain a license from the owner or buy the patent from the owner.

Basics about Patenting and more...

There are four types of documents you should be aware of when patenting an idea:

There are three types of patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office:

  • Utility
  • Design
  • Plant

Design Patent

  • Covers the shape characteristic of an object.
  • Is intended to protect the ornamental and cosmetic aspects of an invention
  • Does not cover the function or use of an object

The protection given by a design patent is based almost entirely from the drawings, not the words.

An example of an object protected by a design patent is a decorative chandelier.

Filing a design patent application gives you patent pending status.

Utility Patent

A Utility Patent protects any useful, novel, and non-obvious:

  • Process
  • Machine
  • Article of manufacture
  • Composition of matter
  • Chemical composition
  • Business process or method
  • Computer software

Filing a utility patent application gives you patent pending status.

Provisional Patent Application

A Provisional Patent Application (PPA) is NOT A PATENT but actually gives a 12 month extension

It allows you the time to raise funds, sell your idea or just disclose it to anyone without fear of your idea being taken.

A PPA filed with the Patent Office must be converted into a utility patent application within one year after it is filed otherwise all the benefits associated with the PPA are lost, including the filing date.

Filing a PPA gives you PATENT PENDING STATUS

The Patent Office allows inventors to file a disclosure document describing their invention.

Disclosure Document

The disclosure document only provides a means of establishing a date of conception in the event of a dispute with another inventor filing for patent protection. It is similar to sending yourself a certified letter containing your invention disclosure.

However

  • IT IS NOT A PATENT APPLICATON
  • IT DOES NOT CREATE ANY PATENT RIGHTS
  • IT DOES NOT GIVE YOU PATENT PENDING STATUS
  • An inventor must move forward on the patenting process in order to secure a patent.