As an entrepreneur and inventor, one of your most valuable assets is your intellectual property (IP). However, without the protections provided by trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, and patents, you may lose your competitive advantage. An experienced Austin patent attorney can help you ensure that you safeguard your IP, thereby allowing you to focus on your long-term business goals.
What Does a Patent Do?
Patents provide you with the exclusive right to manufacture, use, or sell an invention for a specified time period. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is in charge of issuing patents within the United States. U.S. patents last for 20 years. Generally, patents come in one or a combination of the following types:
- Utility Patents:Protects how the chemical, process or machine is manufactured and operates. The most common form of patent, a utility patent covers processes, machines, manufactured items, and chemical compositions.
- Design Patents:Protects the design and aesthetic characteristics of your invention.
- Plant Patents:Involves the creation and asexual reproduction of new plant varieties.
You may be confused as to which patent type(s) is best suited to your invention, or you may want to obtain a foreign patent. A knowledgeable Austin patent attorney can assist in evaluating your invention to help you fully protect your IP or provide you with more information regarding how to obtain a patent in another country.
Before formally filing a patent application, you should first determine the likelihood of obtaining a patent for your invention. To obtain a patent, your invention must be:
- Novel:An invention that is already known, used, and/or discussed in a publication cannot be patented. Your invention must be a “novelty,” which is strictly defined by U.S. patent laws.
- Nonobvious:Your invention would not be considered obvious by someone with ordinary skill who is in your area of technology or expertise.
- Usefulness:Your invention must be useful and be more than a mere idea.
A seasoned Austin patent attorney can help you perform a meticulous patentability search, which includes conducting a search of patent databases, relevant literature, and prior arts to assess your invention’s obviousness and novelty. Performing your own patentability assessment may result in an incomplete analysis, which may lead to unnecessary delays and/or denial of your application. Furthermore, your attorney can help perfect your application to improve your chances of patent approval.
Patent Application Types
If you have a patentable invention, you may either file a provisional or nonprovisional patent application. A provisional patent application (PPA) is beneficial because it:
- Preserves an earlier priority date for your invention, and
- Permits you to label your invention as “patent pending.”
However, you do not get formal IP protections and rights until you receive a nonprovisional patent. You have a year to file a nonprovisional patent application after you file your PPA. The nonprovisional patent applications are time-intensive and highly technical. You must include in your application your invention’s specifications, your patent claims, and any needed technical drawings. Your patent will be denied if:
- You fail to comply with the USPTO’sstrict formatting and submission requirements, or
- If your application is overly broad or vague.
It is crucial to retain an experienced Austin patent attorney who will help you meet the USPTO’s requirements, inform you of how to patent a product, and assist you in properly filing your PPA and/or nonprovisional patent application to increase your chances of approval.
How to Proceed If Your Invention Is Not Patentable
You may still have other options if you invention is not patentable, such as using nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements to safeguard your IP. Although not as powerful as patents, both agreements offer some protections to inventors.
A nondisclosure agreement (NDA) sets out the following:
- Elements of your invention or process that are trade secrets or confidential;
- Each party’s obligation to keep the above elements confidential;
- Length of time each party must keep the information confidential;
- Resolution of disputes regarding the NDA, such as requiring arbitration; and,
- Your remedies if the other party violates or breaches the NDA.
Before entering into an NDA, which are legal contracts, you should consult with an Austin patent or IP attorney.
Speak to an Experienced Austin Patent Attorney
Protecting your IP, and by extension your business, is critical to your success and may cause you significant stress and anxiety. At Bold IP, our goal is to provide you with peace of mind and comprehensive IP solutions to protect your interests. Contact a skilled Austin patent attorney at Bold IP by calling 888-469-6355 today.