Utility and design patents are granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Under Title 35 U.S. Code §101 a utility patent protects the way an invention works compared to Title 35 U.S. Code §171 protecting a design based on its appearance.
Before issuing a patent, the USPTO assesses to see what makes an invention unique and original. It involves the technological details consisting of specific processes related to function, performance, and structure.
While it’s true that anyone can submit a patent application. Working with a patent attorney ensures the use of format requirements as specified by USPTO language and terms for the patent application.
Are there existing (prior art) patents? Are you prepared to deal with patent laws, rules, and procedures?
Getting a Utility Patent
Utility patents protect the invention’s functionality involving its operation and use. Before granting the patent, USPTO must authentic the new process is nonexistent, it works, and it can be manufactured using a regulated system.
For example, the market is filled with kitchen appliances, and most operate on electricity. Let’s say you developed a method to create the first wireless appliance. It’s unique, and the first to enter the market making it original.
The inventor owns the patent as intellectual property. The patent gives the inventor exclusive rights for a limited period, preventing others from making, using, or selling the idea without the inventor’s permission. It can be bought, sold, or licensed.
Details of a Design Patent
Design patents have an aesthetic (visual) effort versus function. The design can be a new application or an upgrade to an existing product. Its value is critical to marketing, primarily when the product’s appearance plays a significant role in attracting an investor or buyer.
Today, companies have more control over a product’s appearance, increasing its value of design patents. The system allows design patents to be filed anytime there is a change in a product’s appearance without altering its utility patent.
A patent attorney familiar with USPTO systems and decision processes is essential because design patents only cover what’s in the illustration or diagram. Although designs need to be innovative, they must be original.
Although these two patents share similar USPTO requirements, there are differences in the office practices for each patent.
- Takes longer to approve.
- Protects how it works.
- 20-year duration from the filing date.
- Easier to obtain.
- Protects the design’s configuration, decorative shape, and form.
- 14-year limitation once the design patent is granted.
Not sure whether you have a utility or design invention? Contact the Law Office of Jerry Joseph and find out. The more you know about the process, and the potential pitfalls can make a difference in getting the patent approved.
Most inventors don’t consider the possibility that the patent will be challenged. Nor do they realize it could take up to two or three years to complete the registration process. Acquiring expert help from a patent attorney specializing in representing clients obtaining patents is indispensable.