Utility Patents: Secure A Monopoly On Functionality
Have you come up with a brilliant idea for a genius invention that does something completely new and valuable? Or, have you figured out a way to improve upon an existing product or process in a way that has never been done before? If so, you are probably feeling pretty excited at this moment. And, you should! You should also seek intellectual property rights to that invention. Most likely, you need to apply for a utility patent.
What Is A Utility Patent?
A utility patent seeks to protect the functionality of an invention. This includes what and invention does and how it does it. A utility patent can be related to any kind of product or process. Utility patents apply to inventions that are new and useful, of a patent subject matter and non-obvious. A utility patent is what people are usually talking about when they refer to patents. Utility patents encompass both provision and non-provisional patents in the US, PCT applications and most foreign patents.
A utility patent is the best way for you to establish a monopoly where no one else is allowed to make or sell your invention within the jurisdiction where your patent has been awarded. This will protect your company from competition that may otherwise be capable of overpowering you in the market. It can also open up new channels for you to monetize your invention in selling licensing rights, which for many companies is a must more lucrative channel than direct sales will ever be.
Design vs Utility Patent
Comparing design vs utility patents is to compare form vs function. A design patent provides protection for things that are ornamental in nature. A design patent seeks to protect the form of an object, whereas a utility patent protects the function. If you have created a product that has a very distinctive shape, for instance a glass bottle where you believe the specific shape has value, but you are not obviously not saying that you invented glass bottles. That would be an example of a scenario where a design patent would be appropriate. Similar to that scenario, if you invented a new material for making bottles, perhaps something that you believe is superior to glass, then seeking a utility patent on the new material would be appropriate.
When Should You File A Utility Patent?
As soon as you have created (or conceived of) a patentable invention that you feel has value and is a candidate for a utility patent, then you should submit a provisional patent or PCT patent application before you begin disclosing the idea to others. Now that the United States is a “first to file” country, it is critically important that you secure your initial filing date as soon as possible, or else you are running the risk that someone else can get to the patent office first and you would lose your opportunity to claim the intellectual property rights. In fact if someone else even publicly discloses the invention or offers it for sale publicly, then this starts the clock and you would only have one year to even file a patent application and claim that filing date.
What Is The Process For Obtaining A Utility Patent?
If you are wondering how to get a utility patent, you are in the right place! The process for getting a patent begins with the utility patent application. Genius Patent will take you through a process that has allowed us to achieve over a 90% success rate for getting issued patents. The utility patent process is as follows:
- Step 1: Meet with an agent or attorney to discuss what the idea is, what makes it new and different than what is out there, what people have done to solve this problem in the past and what is better about the way you are doing it. The interview is extensive and will result in Genius Patent having everything that we would need to conduct a thorough patent search.
- Step 2: Conduct a patent search. This is a critical step because it can be 3-5 years before a patent is granted and products take time to bring to market. Therefore, simply because you are not yet aware of your invention in the market, does not mean that it hasn’t already been patented. Therefore, a thorough patent can save you years of time and expense pursuing an idea that ultimately will not be patentable for you. The patent search will also often result in findings that will provide valuable information about existing products or processes within your target market, and allow us to strengthen your patent claims based on those findings. There are a variety of patent searches including a patentability search, a freedom to operate search also known as a clearance search, a validity search, a state-of-the-art search and a mining search. More information on patent searches can be found on the patent search page.
- Step 3: Based on the initial interview, patent search and the resulting conversations, Genius Patent will begin drafting the utility patent application. We will begin by drawing a set of figures, creating written descriptions, if the patent search revealed any related products we will provide explanations about the differences between those and your invention. There are a variety of utility patent application materials that will be prepared in this step.
- Step 4: Once the initial draft of the utility patent application is complete, we will typically go through several rounds of back and forth with you to ensure that all application elements accurately describe your invention while meeting the technical requirements and intellectual property goals.
- Step 5: Upon your approval of the utility patent application and all supporting materials, we will file the application electronically with the USPTO, paying all fees and obtaining an application number.
- Step 6: Once the application has been filed with the USPTO it will typically take 2-3 years before an office action takes place. This is where an examiner with the USPTO who is skilled int he art of your invention will review your patent, perform their own search for prior art and existing patents with potentially conflicting claims and deliver a response either approving or rejecting the claims of the patent. It is very common that the first office action will reject some aspect of the application. If this happens, Genius Patent will set up an interview with the examiner to discuss the reasons for the rejected claims. Typically during this meeting we will come to some agreement on a path to resolve the conflict within the utility patent application. At this point Genius Patent will make any necessary revisions to the application and resubmit it. It can take anywhere from 1-3 months to hear back from the examiner once the patent has been resubmitted. You are allowed up to three office actions in an attempt to receive approval from the examiner and be awarded your patent.
- Step 7: You are allowed up to 3 office actions to get the examiner to approve your utility patent application. Genius Patent has an over 90% success rate in getting claims approved and patents issued within the 3 office actions. However, if the examiner will not grant your patent based on the application, then the next option is to pursue an appeal with the USPTO. Genius Patent has a 100% success rate is obtaining patents that have gone to the appeals level.
- Step 8: Once the examiner has approved your application or we have successfully appealed the examiners decision with the USPTO, your patent will be awarded. At this point you will have full and enforceable intellectual property rights to your invention.
Utility Patent Enforcement and Litigation
Once you have an issued patent you have a full monopoly on whatever is listed in your claims. This is an enforceable legal right, which means that if you become of aware of anyone making or selling anything that somehow infringes on your patent, you will be able to take steps to stop them. The first thing is to make them aware that they are infringing on your patent and that you plan to enforce your patent rights. It is often said that a patent truly holds weight once it has been successfully defended through patent litigation. The successful legal defense of a patent in court, sets a precedence by which all future infringements can be measured and significantly speeds up the process of enforcing your patent against the same type of infringement in the future.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Utility Patent Issued?
From the time you first engage Genius Patent and we begin the process, until a patent is issued will typically range from 3-5 years. The actual time it will take really depends upon the USPTO. It is possible to pay additional fees to speed up the process by a few years if time is of the essence, however at no time can you reasonably expect a patent to be filed, prosecuted and issued in just a few months time. However, if you are interested in speeding up the process, we can certainly discuss how to achieve that. Simply contact us and we can explore your specific scenario.
How Long Will A Utility Patent Last?
Once your patent has been issued, your intellectual property rights will be secured for up to 20 years from the time of your initial filing date. This means that if your initial filing date is based off of a provisional patent application or a PCT Application, then your 20 years would begin as of that filing date.
Utility Patent Cost
|Service||Fee||USPTO Small Entity Fee||USPTO Micro Entity Fee|
|Provisional Patent Application (Basic)||$500||$130||$65|
|Provisional Patent Application (Standard)||$800||$130||$65|
|Provisional Patent Application (Premier)||$1,625||$130||$65|
|Non-Provisional Patent Application (Basic)||$3,500||$730||$400|
|Non-Provisional Patent Application (Standard)||$5,500||$730||$400|
|Non-Provisional Patent Application (Premier)||$6,875||$730||$400|
Why It Makes Sense To Use A Utility Patent Attorney
While there is no law forbidding anyone from filing a utility patent on their own, US patent law and USPTO processes have very specific requirements and are sufficiently complicated that it is very difficult for anyone who is not a specifically trained and experienced patent attorney to get a patent issued. To clarify this point, only approximately 10% of ordinary (non-patent attorney) people who file their own utility patent applications are successful in getting a patent issued. However, at Genius Patent we have over a 90% success rate at getting patents successfully issued. This is a long process and the potential rewards for you and your business far outweigh the costs of working with an experienced patent attorney.