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Patents and Inventions

Creative ideas are a result of our minds hard at work and inventions are the result of these creative ideas. Patents are the part of the intellectual property law that protects inventions. A national government office will grant a patent after review of the application, which will describe what your product or service is and what it will do.

Three Main Types of Patents

  • Utility patents offer protection for machines, product, process, and composition of matter or any improvements to these. Examples where a utility patent may be used are computer hardware, fiber optics, medications
  • Design patents protect against the unauthorized use of ornamental design, shape, configuration or improvement of an invention. Examples of design patent include the design of Coca-Cola bottles, designer eyeglass frames, athletic shoe, Star Wars character.
  • Plant patent protects asexually reproduced plant varieties that are discovered or invented such as Silver Queen corn, Hybrid tea roses, Better Boy tomatoes.
Inventors may often file for both a design and utility patent for the same invention if their inventions serve several functions or if several functional improvements have been made to the product.

What You Cannot Patent

  • Laws of nature (gravity, wind)
  • Physical phenomena (water, sand)
  • Abstract ideas (a philosophy, mathematics)
  • Literary, musical, dramatic and artistic works (These can be copyright protected.)
The United States Trade and Trademark Office (USPTO) will not patent perpetual motion machines because they are considered impossible; nor will they patent things used for the use of atomic energy or nuclear material for atomic weapons or anything deemed for illegal activities.

What You Can Patent

  • Inventions that are new or novel
  • Inventions sufficiently different and nonobvious - even if you've developed a product that has never been made before, if it's too similar to something else, it cannot be patented.
  • Inventions that are useful, will perform both its declared purpose and a practical purpose