What is a Patent?
The patent is a kind of license granted to inventors given by the government to prevent others from making, selling and using their inventions for a time period. The patent system encourages inventing the unique ideas which are helpful for the society.
In order to get a patent for an invention, it must satisfy 3 conditions.
- An invention must be a unique one which did not exist previously.
- An invention must be the improvement of existing technology.
- An invention must be a useful one.
It is important for an inventor to expand an idea and make it well documented.
The idea must be well explained with all the details, aspects and alternatives to that idea. This is the approaching point for what is called as an invention and after that, we have something that can be protected and patented.
Every invention must be described in detail and show the contribution of that invention to an individual. If a particular inventor has no ability to explain the details of the invention, they can follow the approach of a patent illustrator.
There are 3 types of patents
- Utility patent
- Design patent
- Plant patent
A utility patent is a generic patent. When a patent is related to ornamental design, it comes under the design patent category, and finally, when a patent is related to a plant it comes under the plant patent category.
An idea can be patented only if it is a process. In order to determine whether an idea can be patented, one can go through the USTPO list to get an idea of what issues can or cannot be patented.
A patent is a limited right offered by the government to the inventors to share the detail information of their invention to the public. A patent can be sold, assigned, transferred, licensed and given away.
The first worldwide accepted patent law was passed on the city of Venice and it was in 1474. This law ensured the right to protect an invention and prevent any unauthorized copying.
Another law was enacted in 1624 in England, which granted a patent for a limited period of time to the true and first inventor. In the US, the first patent law came into existence in 1641. It was for the invention of the salt by Massachusetts Bay colony.
During the early development of the patent law in the United States, there was no particular office to validate the US patent until the Patent and Trademark Office was officially established in1836.
According to the law of the European Patent Convention (EPC), the patent is given for an invention which can be useful for an industrial application. They examined all the applications to check whether they have met all the requirement for getting a patent.
Features of a patent
If an inventor invents an improved system for an already patented invention, he or she can obtain the patent for the improvement by assuming that the original patent for the previous invention is still valid. Now, the owner of the improved invention can be excluded from the original patent owner.
Another feature of the patent law is that it is territorial in nature. The grant and enforcement of patent law are governed by the national law and international territories. In most countries, the patent can apply to individuals as well as corporate enterprises. However, this law is not applicable to the US, and in the US, only inventors can apply for a patent.
Patent for an invention is issued by the United State of Patent and Trademark Organization (USTPO). Getting a patent is a complex task. There are a few steps to follow in order to get a patent. Below displays the patenting process.
Before submitting a patent application, you should search and make sure that the invention doesn’t already exist. The basic patent search can be done on the USTPO database or Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries maintained in various colleges and universities in the country.
File a provisional application for a patent. The filing an application for a patent is not a patent itself. It does not provide any protection for your invention. Instead, an application comes under a status known as “patent pending”.
After filing a provisional application, you can start selling your product or give its idea to suitable investors within a period of time. You will have one year time to test the idea. This application is easy to file and just needs a simple sketch of your idea.
File a non-provisional application. After filing this application, it provides you with the protection of the invention for 14-20 years. This process is a lengthy, costly and a difficult task.
Get an allowed patent number and prosecute the patent with the USTPO. After this step, your invented product will have a patent number.
According to 2018 figures, the cost of getting a patent is given below.
- The cost of getting a patent starting from filing a patent provisional application and its USTP is $70
- The most lengthy and difficult task in the patenting process is to file a non-provisional application. The USTP cost for this type of patent is $400 which includes the search fee, filing fee, etc.
- Patent Issue fee – USPTO fee $450
- Maintenance fee (due 3.5 years after your patent is allowed) – USPTO fee $400
- Maintenance fee (due 7.5 years after your patent is allowed) – USPTO fee $900
- Maintenance fee (due 11.5 years after your patent is allowed) – USPTO fee $1,850
Cost of patent an idea
Patenting in other countries
The patent is normally provided by the government of each country. There is no “worldwide patent”
There are two ways of applying for a patent in other countries.
- File an application in each country which you decide to get the grant for a patent.
- File a PCT application.
The process of filing a patent application in all countries is almost the same. The application is first examined to make sure that the requirements of the patent are met. Then, when the application is approved, the patent is granted.
Many factors have to be considered while filing a foreign patent application. Some factors are related to the manufacturing and market of an invention. Some other factors are related to the protection and enforceability of the invention under each nation’s law. But these foreign patents are very costly and with a lengthy process which may vary depending upon the type of an invention and the country.
Some methods for filing the foreign patent application are:
- File with the foreign countries directly.
- File with the regional patent office
- File under Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)