Posts Tagged "utility patent"

FAQ: The Basics of Intellectual Property and Manufacturing

intellectual property and manufacturingFirst-time entrepreneurs, and even seasoned entrepreneurs, have questions when it comes to protecting their intellectual property (IP) and moving forward with manufacturing. No two products are alike; therefore, a custom-tailored strategy is necessary when it comes to navigating these two areas of product development.

On the IP side, a decision must be made about what type of patent (design patent or utility patent) makes sense for the invention and budget. On the manufacturing side, everything about the design, even the smallest details, must be accounted for when selecting materials and where to manufacture the product. Having insight and answers early-on in the startup journey helps entrepreneurs understand the full spectrum of what it takes to bring a product to market.

Below we delve into the top three questions we frequently receive related to IP and manufacturing.

Do I need a patent to start my design?

You don’t necessarily need a patent to start the design phase of product development. Often, the design phase is done in parallel with the patent creation process and filing.

Drawings from the design are included as part of the patent application and can be used as attachments to your application. It is recommended to at least file for a Provisional Patent prior to disclosing any information about the product such as designs, prototypes, and specifications to outside parties. You will also want to have your patent in the Patent Pending stage before moving forward with any manufacturing or marketing initiatives.

How will you keep my intellectual property confidential?

Ideas are a “dime a dozen”, but the real intellectual property (IP) is what gets developed, not the idea itself. Developing the functional aspect of the idea is the difficult part. All information is kept confidential and disclosed strictly on a need-to-know basis with the client’s approval.

What process will be used for production manufacturing?

Before entering the production manufacturing phase, several things will be conducted to determine the most cost effective and price friendly option.  Material, surface finish, quantity, and post processing are factors in deciding the appropriate process for production manufacturing.

*This is the second piece in a two-part series, view part one here, FAQ: The Basics of Product Development.

We are happy to answer any additional product development questions you have, please email us at info@3d-innovations.com

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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Navigating IP on the Path to Commercialization

October 19, 2015
3D Innovations

Recently, patents, and the entire patent system, have been synonymous with reform. However, the truth remains that patents are a critical factor for sustainable success. Whether you are at the helm of a startup that plans on crowdfunding a product or a SME working on a new and innovative technology, securing and protecting your intellectual property (IP) rights to that invention is key to successful commercialization.

Patents, copyrights and trademarks are all forms of intellectual property. For the purpose of this piece, patents — particularly design and utility patents — will be the focus of the conversation. While all three types of IP are indeed essential for success, hardware-focused products rely heavily on patents. Before we delve into commercialization let’s quickly review what exactly a patent is.

Patent. A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). U.S. patent grants are effective only within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions. There are three types of patents: utility, design and plant patents.

  1. Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof;
  2. Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture; and
  3. Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.
Researching Patent Options

There is nothing more time consuming and resource draining than filing a patent only to later realize that there is already a patent for a similar invention. To avoid this scenario completely, conducting a patent search is in order. Patents hinge on the fact that they are one-of-a-kind; therefore, taking the time to research current patents and confirm that an invention does not already exist, should be the very first step. The USPTO makes it possible to conduct a preliminary patent search on your own; however, it is highly recommended that you consult with a licensed patent search firm to assist with the bulk of the research. These firms have vast experience researching and are extremely knowledgeable in the classification systems.

Once the research portion has been conducted, the next common early-stage question that resonates in the mind of entrepreneurs is, Do I need to patent my design? Having a patent for your product design allows you to claim all rights to the product. Often a design patent is overlooked and underutilized since this type of patent focuses more on the exterior design, features and overall aesthetics of the product and less on functionality.

Design patents extend to what is exactly shown in the drawings, nothing more. Having high-quality professional line drawings by a CAD designer is extremely advantageous. With a design patent, you are able to use the coveted phrases, patent pending and patent issued on all marketing material, and have confidence that your invention is protected for the next fourteen years. A design patent coupled with a utility patent provides overlapping protection for both the inner workings and exterior design of your product, and is a powerful tool in your IP arsenal.

In contrast to design patents, utility patents focus solely on the inner workings of your invention, its unique functions and overall usefulness. An invention is deemed useful if it provides an identifiable benefit and is capable of use. People often refer to utility patents as “patents for invention”. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, ninety-percent of the patent documents issued by the USPTO in recent years have been utility patents. With a utility patent your invention will be protected for the next twenty years.

Design and utility patents each have a distinct form of protection and are often used congruently. It is best to consult with a licensed patent attorney to review the options and see what type of protection will be the most beneficial and cost-effective.

Filing for Provisional v. Non-Provisional Utility Patents

So, you have done your research and are confident that your new product has not been previously patented, now is the time to decide if you need to file for a provisional or non-provisional utility patent.

In simple terms, a provisional application is a quick and inexpensive way to begin protecting an invention while you continue its development, conduct market testing and obtain funding. A provisional patent gives you exactly one year to file a non-provisional utility patent application and move forward in the patent process. If you do not file within the one year time period, you have in essence “abandoned” the utility patent application and no longer have claim to the invention. Filing a non-provisional patent application establishes a firm filing date and starts the official examination process with the USPTO.

It is important to understand that although you file a patent application, there is no guarantee it will be issued. Examiners will review your application and look for prior patents that may conflict with what you are claiming. However, once you are granted a patent, you then have all rights to the invention and can enforce any infringement upon it.

Moving Towards Commercialization

While patents cannot provide a guarantee that your product will be successful, patents do allow you to secure all rights and claims to your invention and provide comprehensive IP protection. Patents can bolster competitive advantage and assist in the streamlining of the entire commercialization process. Without patent protection, some inventions cannot be commercialized at all because both the inventor and investors understand that the product can easily be duplicated, leaving them with no recourse if their product is copied. Taking the time to develop a high quality patent means much more in the marketplace and can ultimately determine the success or failure of a product.

*This post was written by 3D Innovations and published on the PD&D website. Here is the link to view our article there.

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3D Innovations is a Product Development Company – from the 3D Design to a fully functional 3D Prototype & Product.

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