What is a utility patent?
Utility patents is the most popular category of patents because it covers the most common inventions, not by their value, but by their classification. Utility patents are granted for inventions that bring something new and useful, as opposite to design patents who are mostly about the aesthetic novelty.
Utility patents are granted for inventions from the following categories:
- Machines (objects or articles generally composed of more than one moving parts (cars, engines, clocks, mechanical toys, etc.)
- Articles of manufacture – represented by items which include just a few or no moving parts (chairs, scissors, etc.)
- Processes – represented by new methods of obtaining a useful result, including business methods and computer programs
- Compositions of matter – represented by compounds and mixtures (e.g. a new toothpaste formula, man-made rice, etc.).
When should I file my utility patent application?
According to the present legislation, the first person to file a patent application for an invention has the most chance to be considered its inventor. This is why it is extremely important to file a patent application immediately after you have completed your invention. In addition to protecting the invention, once a Provisional Application has been filed, the inventor is entitled to:
- Label the invention as “patent pending”
- Seek royalty payments from anyone who used the invention in the “pending” period.
The process is not extremely difficult but it needs some time to prepare so it is important to plan ahead and live yourself at least 7-8 weeks to complete the process. The main steps are:
Step 1 – Preparing your application
It all starts with a simple and easy to fill in questionnaire used to gather some general information about your invention. Next, you will discuss your application with a USPTO-registered patent professional by phone, and you will work with a professional illustrator in order to finalize the technical drawings you will need to support your patent application. This step can take up to 4 weeks. If you request an additional patent search and review to check for other invention that are similar to yours, it will add an extra week.
Step 2 – Filing your non-provisional application
Once you have all the information and documents prepared, you will be connected with a patent attorney or USPTO-registered patent agent who will help you in completing your application and filing it with the USPTO. This step also takes an average of 4 weeks. For special situations whichrequire expedite processing, law firms can offer a shorter deadline for an additional fee.
To help inventors in presenting their invention as clear and complete as possible the USPTO offers a series of guidelines on writing the patent application. According to these guidelines, the patent application needs to include:
Title of invention – no more than 500 characters long, describing the invention. It is recommended to avoid titles focused on marketing (trademarks, brands) and use instead descriptive titles.
Utility of the invention – including clear instructions on how to make the article/object/machine and how to use it.
Summary of the invention – what it is about (structure, components, functionality)
Drawings – (if the invention involves drawings) and explanations for any enclosed drawings
Claims about the patentability of the invention.
The basic rule in describing your invention is that it should be clear enough to allow any other person from the same field to make use of it with no other additional information. If the invention includes any rare or new material, a sample should be added to the application.
The provisional application protects your invention for 12 months. The next step is to decide if you want to file for a full non-provisional patent and file before the 12 months expire. If you haven’t filed for your non-provisional application patent before the 12 months have passed, you lose your priority filling date.
If you decided not to file for a non-provisional application patent, all you have to do is let the 12 months pass without filing. If you wanted to file for a corresponding non-provisional application patent and you didn’t do it within 12 months from the provisional application, you can file again for a provisional application, but the initial filing date is lost.
Filing for the non-provisional utility patent application means that both the original provisional application and the non-provisional application will be reviewed by the USPTO.
When you file your nonprovisional utility patent application, both that and your original provisional application will be reviewed by the USPTO. An USPTO expert will determine whether the invention you described in the non-provisional utility patent application is similar enough to the one in the provisional application and your non-provisional application will be reviewed to determine if a patent can be granted.
Utility Patent Application Process – Apply for a Utility Patent Online
Our services are meant to help you navigate easier and faster the process of applying for a utility patent. Just start by filling in our simple questionnaire and we will assist you every step of the way with:
- Consultation with a USPTO-registered patent attorney or agent to clarify any questions you might have
- Up to four pages of technical drawings of your invention created by a professional illustrator based on your sketches and indications
- Preparing and filing your utility patent application with the USPTO with the assistance of a patent attorney or agent.
- Professional patent search for similar invention to help you avoid conflicts and increase the chances of obtaining the patent.
Our services include:
Patent attorney consultation – professional consultation by phone with a USPTO-registered patent attorney or agent.
Professional technical drawings – for an additional fee, a professional technical illustrator will create for your application up to 4 pages of technical drawings based on your sketches and indications.
Optional comprehensive patent search – at your request and for an additional fee our team of experts will conduct a comprehensive search for published patents and applications in the same field and in similar fields with your invention.
Draft application – Up to two drafts of your application will be prepared by your patent attorney or agent before deciding the final form.
Filing the application – The final application will be electronically filed by your patent attorney or agent.