Creating a business model is a multi-faceted project, and one that can be ongoing throughout the lifetime of your company. Along with this comes a host of other responsibilities such as creating your brand, establishing partnerships and agreements, hiring, establishing benefits packages, designing marketing campaigns—and oh yes, somewhere in there too: establishing a solid client base! There are many elements to founding and maintaining a healthy business, and while there is much to protect, intellectual property must be at the top of the list.
You may be an inventor yourself, or either full-time employees or independent contractors may be creating innovative products for your company. And although that is another somewhat complex subject, if you do have independent contractors working for you, it is vital that you have airtight agreements to protect what is your property essentially—unless stated otherwise. Before you wonder about patents further though, understand how they are defined. According to the United States Patent and Trade Office, a patent is issued when they grant property rights for an invention to the inventor. It does not expire for 20 years after filing of the application and gives you the right to exclude everyone else from using the invention, making it, and selling it in the US. Everyone else is also excluded from importing it into the US.
“Once a patent is issued, the patentee must enforce the patent without aid of the USPTO,” states the USPTO.
“The patent law specifies the general field of subject matter that can be patented and the conditions under which a patent may be obtained,” continues USPTO information.
“In the language of the statute, any person who ‘invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent,’ subject to the conditions and requirements of the law. The word ‘process’ is defined by law as a process, act, or method, and primarily includes industrial or technical processes. The term ‘machine’ used in the statute needs no explanation. The term ‘manufacture’ refers to articles that are made and includes all manufactured articles. The term ‘composition of matter’ relates to chemical compositions and may include mixtures of ingredients as well as new chemical compounds. These classes of subject matter taken together include practically everything that is made by man and the processes for making the products.”
If your business owns rights to an invention that needs this type of protection, then you do need to apply for a patent. Work with an experienced intellectual property attorney from an office like the Bolender Law Firm. There are some pre-application steps that are very important and getting help from a legal professional versed in patents is in your best interest as you determine what type of patent you need, whether there are other similar (or identical) ones in existence already, and more. Understanding patent laws and the application process can be complicated.