Patents protect new inventions relating to mechanics, software, electronics, and biotechnology. They differ from trademarks in that trademarks protect brands, logos, and other identifiers and from copyrights in that copyrights protect writings, music, and other creative expressions.
Patents include design and utility type patents, as well as the less common plant patents. Design patents protect the ornamental design aspects of an existing article of manufacture. For example, design patents apply to new ornamental shapes of bottles, park benches, sunglasses, and lamps. Utility type patents protect the new and improved functional products or processes. For example, utility patents apply to new software functionality, improvements of mechanical devices, and new methods of making and using products. Importantly, domestic patent protection is completely separate from foreign patent protection.
The patent process is complex, but in essence involves filing a patent application and undergoing examination with a patent examiner at the Patent Office. There are many issues that must be evaluated when filing a patent application including inventorship, disclosures, ownership, publication, and more and having a patent agency, like InventHelp, by your side is important.
Provisional patent applications are commonly requested by potential patent applicants. They are attractive in that they have virtually no formal requirements, can be as minimal as inventor notes and sketches, and can include subject matter for many different inventions. Provisional applications also delay the time for filing formal non-provisional, PCT, and foreign applications by a year. They also can shift the patent term up to one year in the future due to the patent term calculation being based upon the non-provisional filing date. However, provisional applications also may provide a false sense of protection if the associated disclosure materials are non-enabling or limiting in nature. They also don’t result in examination unless a non-provisional application is requested within the requisite time frame.
Non-provisional applications are the formal utility application that result in examination and have the potential for issuance. They are complicated documents, requiring adherence to a host of laws and regulations and must be prepared with an eye toward examination, licensing, and litigation. Once filed, non-provisional applications typically undergo examination approximately a year to two after filing. There is no guarantee of patent issuance as each non-provisional application must undergo a rigorous examination procedure before the Patent Office. So, hiring professionals, like Invent Help agency is imperative.
As indicated above, foreign patent applications must be separately filed from domestic patent applications. Protection is afforded on a country by country basis. One option for delaying filings of foreign patent applications is the international PCT application. Upon filing, this application can preserve patent rights in 148 countries, including the U.S., the EU, and Eurasia, and delay the time frame for filing applications in these countries for at least 30 months.