A Utility Patent application is a crucial step towards protecting your invention or ingenuity, but the process can be daunting and complicated. Luckily, patent attorneys are here to help make sure your utility patent application goes smoothly and your ideas are protected from use by competitors.
With our help, you will not only be able to apply faster and more painlessly, but we will help ensure all your bases are covered to get maximum legal protections for your ideas under the patent.
What Ideas/Inventions Require Or Qualify For A Utility Patent?
Utility patents are one of three patents protected by US law, the other two being design and plant. The utility patent is a broad category designed to protect any innovative or new method, manufacturing procedure or process, product, composition, machine, etc.
The utility patent is distinct from the design patent which is meant exclusively for elements of the outward appearance or ornamentation of an item (including digital elements) and plant patents for genetic variations of plants or fungi.
Of the hundreds of thousands of patents filed in the US alone each year, the majority are utility patents. In 2020, over a thousand patents were filed in Fremont, California, alone, making it among the top 15 patent-generating cities in the US alone.
If you are unsure whether your idea or invention requires or deserves a patent, it is best to consult with a qualified and experienced US utility patent attorney. We will be able to help you determine what kind of patent you require and/or are eligible for.
What Protections Does A Utility Patent Provide Against Copying Or Competitors?
In the US, a successful utility patent application gives you legal protections against anyone attempting to use or replicate your idea, method, product, etc, without your permission.
This means you will have the right to limit others’ ability to:
- Sell or offer to sell the subject matter of the utility patent,
- Manufacture or import the subject matter of the utility patent,
- Use the subject matter of the patent.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), however, does not pursue or hold those who do so accountable directly, the patent merely gives you the right to bring the offenders before the courts to stop them and/or sue them for breaching the rights of the patent.
Therefore it is important, as you apply for the patent on your idea, to work closely with your US utility patent application lawyer to ensure your patent provides the maximum possible protections without any flaws or loopholes a competitor might be able to exploit.
How Long Does A Utility Patent’s Protections Last In California?
In the US, a successful utility patent application means you will have 20 years of legal protection. This is longer than the 15 years provided by a design patent.
However, it is important to note that the initial date of protection is when you submit the patent application, regardless of whether you submitted it first as a provisional or non-provisional utility patent application.
Do I Need To File A Provisional Utility Patent Before Hiring A Patent Attorney?
Provisional patent applications are designed to be easier and less burdensome to submit and do not come with as many steps or complications. Provisional utility patent applications make it possible, though not advisable, for someone to submit one on their own without recourse to patent application services or attorneys.
Such a provisional application, however, provides no protection and will not be reviewed or considered by the USPTO. To receive the protections your idea deserves for the full 20-year period, you must file the non-provisional utility patent application within 12 months of the provisional one.
The main advantage of the provisional application is thus to have an earlier start date for those protections. While it is possible to file it by yourself, your chances of receiving full protection and of a successful non-provisional utility patent application will still improve if you do both with the help of qualified and experienced patent attorneys.