In intellectual property law, an invention is defined as a new composition, device, or process. The term may also refer to improvements to already existing inventions. Inventions involving new, useful, and nonobvious processes, machines, manufacturers, and compositions of matters can be patented according to United States patent laws. Throughout the years, case law has defined what constitutes an invention, even though the legal definition of "invention" has not been defined explicitly under the US Patent Act.
In the United States, patents are used to protect the rights of an invention. In exchange for complete disclosure of the invention, a patent provides the inventor with exclusive rights to use the composition, device or process. There are three main types of patents: utility patents, design patents and plant patents.
Patents are issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A patent application must be filed within one year of the date the invention was publicly disclosed. Starting from the date the application is filed, patents remain valid for 20 years. This date, known as the actual filing date, is an essential component of a patent application. US patents operate on a “first to file” basis, so whoever applies for the patent first typically owns the rights to the invention. When you own a patent, no one else can make, use, distribute, import or sell your invention without your consent. If a patent is infringed upon, legal action can be taken and damages can be awarded to the patent owner.
In order to be issued a patent by the USPTO, an invention must fulfill several criteria. Here are a few important patent requirements:
Have you created a one-of-a-kind invention? Make sure it gets the protection it deserves by filing for a patent with the USPTO. If you have any more questions about inventions and patents, or if you need assistance in filing your patent application, reach out to one of our expert intellectual property attorneys.