In 1790, the U.S. Patent Act was established, which resulted in the creation of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Since that time, the USPTO has received a considerable number of patent applications. On an annual basis, more than 500,000 patent applications are being received.
A Basic Overview of Patent Qualifications
In order to obtain a patent, it’s important to note that original inventions do need to meet specific qualifying criteria. While these criteria are somewhat broad, there is a possibility that an invention may not qualify for a patent.
The results of a recent survey indicated that there are 12 industries which have utilized patents to a great degree. For the 12 industries that have successfully utilized their patents, a minimum of 50% have qualifying inventions. Furthermore, these inventions have been, or are in the process of being, successfully patented.
Three Types of Patents
According to the USPTO, patents fit into three types: Utility, design, and plant. If someone discovers “any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof,” then a utility patent may be granted. When someone invents “a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture,” then a design patent may be granted. Plant patents pertain to the invention, discovery, and asexual reproduction of “any distinct and new variety of plant.”
Provisional Patents and Patent Duration
Inventions can be protected for twelve months with a provisional patent application. During this time, an inventor can indicate that they have a “patent pending” on their product. It’s important to note that a regular patent application needs to be filed during this time period. Otherwise, the provisional patent will expire and no longer be protected. Once a patent has been obtained, however, the 20-year term begins on the date of application.
Contact a Patent Attorney to Learn More
If you would like to know more about the patent process, patent protection, or patent litigation, it’s a good idea to contact a patent attorney. Since there are a variety of intellectual property issues that may arise, consulting with an attorney can assist you with being aware of these. In the event that you’re experiencing intellectual property issues, a patent attorney can review your case and provide legal advice. Prior to meeting with your attorney, remember to create a list of questions and concerns so that you are prepared for your consultation.