When do you need a utility patent?
You need a utility patent when you have a functional invention – like a new method or product to make something faster, better, cheaper, easier, etc. – and the invention is what one might call a big-money idea. A big-money idea is an idea that if successful will make the cost of a patent seem trivial.
How do utility patents differ from design patents?
A design patent differs from a utility patent in that a design patent protects the look or appearance of a product, rather than its function. A utility patent defines and protects the function or mechanics of an invention.
Industries where utility patents are most common
Utility patents can be suitable for inventions in almost any industry, but utility patents tend to be most common in industries like electronics, software, medical devices, and manufacturing, to name a few examples.
How can an experienced patent attorney help you get or protect a utility patent?
- Build a strategy to protect your invention, whatever stage of development it is in
- Tell you how not to waste your money
- Guide you through the often-confusing steps of the patent process (there are many; I wrote a whole book on it)
- Write a patent application that protects your invention and ideas to the fullest
- Answer your questions throughout the process
- Anticipate and adjust to twists and turns on the way to the patent protection you need
When should a patent attorney help on your utility patent?
It is probably time for a patent attorney once you, the inventor, have completed a few preliminary steps:
- Do an informal patent search that might include doing a Google Images search or going through the USPTO’s 7-step strategy.
- Build a prototype, if it is feasible.
- Determine whether the invention has realistic potential to be a big-money idea.
Common mistakes people make when pursuing their utility patent pro se
The most common mistake by far is that inventors’ utility patent applications do not explain the details of the invention enough. Too often, inventors gloss over the details of the invention. An effective patent application provides a detailed explanation of how to produce and how to use the invention. Most pro se patent applicants never think to do that, or they forget, or they underestimate the importance of diving deeper into the details, or they try and simply come up short.
They also tend to fail to preload the patent application with all of the variations, ranges, options and alternative embodiments that might give them the broadest patent protection.
Helpful resources on seeking a utility patent
Consult with me
Let’s discuss your invention and goals. I am based in Orange County and work with inventors throughout the United States. You can call me, patent attorney James Yang, at (949) 433-0900, or book a consultation here.