What is a Patent?

Simply put, a patent is a type of intellectual property (IP) that applies to an invention and grants a property right to the inventor.

What Kinds of Things can be Patented?

Patent law states that subject to the conditions and requirements of the law, any individual who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent.”

  • Process: A process is defined as a process, act, or method, and mainly includes industrial or technical processes.
  • Useful: The term “useful” means that the subject matter must have a useful purpose and includes the idea of “operativeness,” i.e., a machine that is unable to carry out the purpose for which it was intended would not be designated as being useful, and, therefore, would not be eligible for the grant of a patent.
  • Manufacture: The term “manufacture” refers to articles that are made, and encompasses all manufactured articles.
  • Composition of Matter: This term relates to chemical compositions. It covers mixtures of ingredients and new chemical compounds.
What Cannot be Patented?

Natural laws, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas cannot be patented. A patent can be granted for a new machine, manufacture, etc., but not for the idea or suggestion of such.

How Long Does a Patent Last?

Patents last for a period of twenty years beginning on the date a patent application is filed. A patent gives the inventor the right to prevent others from exploiting their invention during that time.

How do I Obtain a United States Patent?

In the US, patents are issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A complete and detailed description of the invention for which a patent is sought is required. Here are the steps for filing a patent application.

  1. Determine if your invention is patentable. This step should include a search to establish that your invention is unique.
  2. Determine what kind of patent you need. There are three categories of patents – utility, design, and plant.
  • Utility Patent: A utility patent covers the invention or discovery of any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matters, or any new and useful improvement thereof. Utility applications comprise the majority of patent applications filed in the USPTO.
  • Design Patent: A design patent covers the invention of a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.
  • Plant Patent: A plant patent applies to the invention or discovery and asexual reproduction of any new and distinct variety of plant.
  1. Prepare and submit your initial application.
  2. Respond to any issues raised by the Patent Office during its examination of your application.
How do I Obtain a Patent in Another Country?

Patents are territorial, meaning that it’s necessary to apply for patent protection in each country where protection is sought. However, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international treaty that makes it easier to seek protection for an invention in other countries by filing a single “international” patent application. More than 150 countries are signatories to this treaty. The granting of a patent stays under the control of the regional or national patent office in what is known as the “national phase.”

Why You Need Legal Assistance to File a Patent

Anything related to obtaining a patent tends to be quite complex, and it’s advisable not to try to handle it yourself. Detroit Technology Lawyers (DTL) is an expert in all branches of intellectual property law, including the law that applies to patents. So, set up an appointment with us for the best professional advice on obtaining a patent for your invention. We can also assist you if the Patent Office has determined that your invention is not patentable.