A patent is a license or legal right given to an inventor or organization responsible for inventing something new by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This patent ensures that only the inventor/organization is allowed to produce, sell, use, and even import the invention.
Types of Patents
Depending on the invention, the inventor or organization responsible for the invention will need to seek a specific type of patent. There are three primary types of patents:
- Utility Patents: These patents can be granted to an inventor that discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, compositions of matter, or any new and useful improvement on an existing idea. This is the most common type of patent.
- Design Patents: These patents can be granted to an inventor who invents a new, original, or ornamental design for an article of manufacture. This patent differs from a utility patent in that a utility patent protects the way an article is used, while a design patent protects the way an article visibly looks.
- Plant Patents: Plant patents can be granted to a person who invents or discovers and is able to asexually reproduce a distinct or new variety of plant.
The application process for a patent may take a significant amount of time to be resolved. When applying for a patent, applicants must do the following:
- Figure out if the invention is patentable.
- Decide what kind of patent you need.
- Prepare to pay application fees.
- Submit your application.
- Work with the examiner assigned to your patent application.
Specific damages can be sought for compensation in a patent infringement lawsuit. Two most common compensable damages in a patent infringement lawsuit include:
- Reasonable Royalties: This refers to the market value the infringer would have had to pay for the license to use that invention had they gone through the proper channels. This value can vary greatly depending on the invention itself as well as to what degree the infringement was implemented.
- Lost Profits: This refers to any profits that the inventor, organization, or their attorney can prove was lost due to the infringement.
Hiring a Patent Attorney
Before an invention can be patented, an in-depth patent search must be performed to ensure that the invention has not already been publicly disclosed. It can be extremely difficult to perform a thorough patent search on your own, so it is highly recommended to hire an experienced patent attorney to assist you.