Unlike copyrights and trademarks, patents protect ideas. Inventors who have created something new, or have created an improvement to something existing can file for a patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. A patent will protect the inventor’s idea from being used by other entities without your permission.
In order for an idea to receive a patent, it must meet three criteria: (1) the idea or invention is novel or not previously known, (2) it must be unobvious, meaning an expert in the field relating to the idea would find a sufficient difference between the idea and what has been used before, and (3) the idea must be useful and operable.
Types of Patents
Patents are divided into three categories by form – utility, design, and plant. A utility patent is issued to protect the functionality of an invention. Design patents protect the original design for a manufactured product, and plant patents protect new varieties of plants.
Utility patents are further divided into five categories: a process, a machine, a manufacture, a composition of matter, or an improvement upon an existing idea. Because of the broad definition, utility patents account for nearly 90% of all patents filed. Some ideas that could qualify for a utility patent include computer software, cosmetics, housewares, new chemical formulas, food inventions, biological inventions, and other manufactured goods. Once granted, utility patents protect the idea or invention for twenty years.
Design patents cannot protect functional items, but may only cover purely ornamental or aesthetic items. For example, a design patent could cover each an IKEA chair, a new font, or designer sunglasses. Design patents protect a design from infringement for fourteen years.
Sometimes individuals or businesses will infringe upon your patent rights whether unintentionally or deliberately, but through the help of a Houston patent attorney, you can stop the infringement and seek monetary compensation. However, if you are accused of patent infringement, the process can be drawn out and complicated without an experienced patent attorney by your side.
Houston Patent Attorneys
Filing for a patent is the best way to protect your ideas, but the process can be challenging without the help of a knowledgeable Houston patent attorney. The attorneys at Adair Myers Graves Stevenson can help you file for a patent, help you protect your rights if your patent is being infringed on, and defend you against allegations of patent infringement. Contact us today to see how we can help you protect your ideas.