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Bold Ideas

The Inventor's Guide To Patents

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If you are an inventor in Los Angeles, you might have questions about how to patent a product. Patents grant inventors valuable protections. However, the patent process is highly technical and complicated. Before you file a patent on your own, you should consider speaking with a Los Angeles patent attorney.

What Is a Patent?

A patent allows an inventor the exclusive right to make, sell, or use an invention for a period of time. In the United States, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is responsible for issuing patents. Generally speaking, there are three types of patents:

  • Design Patents: Protecting the appearance and design of your product,
  • Plant Patents: Involving the invention and asexual reproduction of new plant varieties, and
  • Utility Patents: Covering machines, chemical compositions, processes, and manufactured items. Utility patents are the most common form of patent.

A U.S. patent lasts for 20 years. Importantly, you might need to file both design and utility patents for your invention. Your utility patents will focus on how the machine, process, or chemical is made and operates. Your design patents will address your product’s unique design or aesthetic characteristics.

Unless you already know how to patent a product, you might be unsure which patent types cover your invention. An experienced patent lawyer can help you evaluate your invention and fully protect its IP. You can also obtain foreign patents. If you have questions about how to patent a product in another country, contact a patent attorney.

What Products Are Patentable?

Before you formally apply for a patent in Los Angeles, you should determine your invention’s likelihood of patentability. In order to patent your invention, you must prove that it is:

  • Novel: You cannot patent something that is already known, used, or discussed in a publication. U.S. patents laws strictly define “novelty.” If you have questions about your invention’s novelty, contact a Los Angeles patent attorney for more information.
  • Nonobvious: Someone with ordinary skill in your area of technology would not consider your invention obvious.

If you are filing for a utility patent, you must also prove that your invention is useful. You also cannot patent a mere idea (such as a mathematical algorithm).

Typically, inventors hire a Los Angeles patent attorney to perform a detailed patentability search. This involves searching patent databases, relevant literature, and prior art to assess your product’s novelty and obviousness. While you can attempt a patentability assessment on your own, you risk performing an incomplete analysis that leads to a denial of your patent application and unnecessary delays. Additionally, a Los Angeles patent attorney can help you refine your patent application, giving you an increased chance of approval.

Types of Patent Applications

If you believe your invention is patentable, you can file either a provisional or nonprovisional patent application with the USPTO. A provisional patent application (PPA) preserves an earlier priority date for your product and allows you to designate it as “patent pending.” However, does not grant you any formal IP rights (such as the right to sue someone for infringement). To obtain full IP rights, you must receive a nonprovisional patent.

Filing for a PPA is relatively simple and inexpensive process. However, unless you know how to patent a product, you should consult with a patent lawyer before filing a PPA. Mistakes in a PPA can endanger your right to a nonprovisional patent.

Once you have a PPA, you have one year to file your nonprovisional application. Nonprovisional patent applications are highly technical and time-intensive. You must include your product’s specifications, your patent claims, and any necessary technical drawings. If you do not comply with the USPTO’s strict formatting and submission requirements, it will deny your patent. And, it might deny your application if it is overly vague or broad. For these reasons, you should seriously consider hiring a patent lawyer before filing a nonprovisional patent application. An experienced IP lawyer will show you exactly how to patent a product and meet the USPTO’s demanding requirements.

What if My Invention Is Not Patentable?

If you discover that your invention isn’t patentable, you might have other options. For example, you might use nondisclosure agreements and confidentiality agreements to protect your intellectual property. While not as robust as a patent, nondisclosure agreements do give inventors some protection. A nondisclosure agreement (NDA) set out:

  • What elements of your product or process are confidential or trade secrets,
  • Each party’s obligation to keep these elements confidential,
  • How long each party much keep the information confidential,
  • How you will resolve disputes about the nondisclosure agreement (such as requiring arbitration), and
  • What remedies you have if the other party violates the nondisclosure agreement.

Because nondisclosure agreements are legal contracts, you should always consult with a Los Angeles patent or IP attorney before entering an NDA.

The Bold IP Attorney of Los Angeles

J.D. Houvner
Patent Attorney and Founder

Wooshik Shim – Patent Attorney

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Bold IP is an agile law firm whose main focus is to help inventors, entrepreneurs and business owners with their Intellectual Property. Bold IP focuses on patent law. For many inventors and emerging businesses, protecting patents is a big deal and often causes a lot of stress and anxiety. Our goal at Bold IP is to take the stress and worry off your shoulders and put it squarely on ours!

Specializing in Aerospace, Healthcare & Software Intellectual Property!

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