You’ve Designed the Next Great Consumer Gizmo…Now What?
If you are one of those people who enjoy the challenge of inventing new things, you’ve probably been working on the next great breakthrough for years. Now, after many years of tinkering in your garage in Atlanta, you think it’s time to take the next step. Do you need a patent to protect your machine’s design? If so, where and how do you get one?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the place to go to get the information you need to know about ultimately safeguarding your invention. A patent is a property right granted by the U.S. federal government to an inventor to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States.
As defined by the USPTO, the government may grant three types of patents:
- Utility patents for inventing or discovering any new and useful process, machine, manufactured item, or composition of matter or any new and useful improvements to any of these.
- Design patents for inventors of a new, original, and ornamental design for a manufactured item.
- Plant patents for inventors or discoverers of any distinct and new variety of plant.
The patent process begins with research to find out if anyone else has already patented your invention. If not, you must follow a 13-step process to finally obtain your patent.