Utility patents are the most common types of patents. This is mainly reflected in the numbering system. As of January 2018, the utility patents number currently are listing around 9 million, 877 thousand. In comparison, design patents are in the 800 thousand.

Fun fact: Thomas Edison’s light bulb is listed as patent number 223,898 and was filed on November 4th, 1879. That means that it is over 138 years old!

Wbat Do Utility Patents Cover?

Utility patents are used to cover inventions which have working mechanisms, functional features and generally products that are real, tangible and interact with humans in one way or another. By definition, they fall into the category of “Machines”. However, there are 4 different types of utility patents which are listed below:

  1. Product must be statutory, meaning that it needs to fall into one of four categories. 99.9% of the inventions we deal with at PMI fall under category #2 of Machines. The four categories are as follows:
    1. Processes: Chemicals, computer code, food products, etc.
    2. Machines: A concrete thing, consisting of parts, or of certain devices and combination of devices.
    3. Article of Manufacture: The production of articles for use from raw or prepared materials by giving to these materials new forms, qualities, properties, or combinations, whether by hand-labor or by machinery.
    4. Composition of Manufacture: A composition of matter is an instrument formed by the intermixture of two or more ingredients and possessing properties which belong to none of these ingredients in their separate state.
  1. Product must be a Novelty: What this means is that the invention cannot have been in the public domain before the application was filed. The USPTO has specific rules to follow which include a 1-year grace period between the time the inventor disclosed his invention to the public and the time he filed for patent protection. We strongly recommend filing for patent protection before doing any type of public disclosure.
  1. Product should be Useful: In other words, the invention must have a useful purpose. Patents which do not meet this criterion usually fall under the category of Design Patents.
  1. Product should meet the Non-Obviousness Requirement: This is one of the most difficult determinations within the entire patent process, as the USPTO examiner must make the determination whether the new invention can be pieced together using existing IP from previously granted patents. To make such a determination, an examiner will review previous patent documents as well as published patent applications that are closely related to the invention. If all the features can be found in one patent, or a combination of existing patents the examiner will generally reject the invention as an obvious combination of items known in the prior art.

How to find out if your invention merits a Utility Patent?

A combination of factors will determine whether your invention merits a utility patent.

  • For starters, a proper patent search will surface any similar patents which may be registered with the USPTO, whether they are lapsed, valid or outdated will be one factor in the process and will help us determine the availability of prior art similar to your invention.
  • Secondly, a thorough, professional market search will give us visibility of existing products in the market which already exist and are being sold. It is highly likely that we will find a product that is eerily similar or a product which can produce the same results as your invention. Whether they are potential infringement hazards, patent pending time bombs or dead ends, each product we find gives your search more validity and depth.
  • Thirdly, the professional experience of a seasoned product developer will be key in determining whether any design workarounds are feasible in order to successfully “circumvent” an existing patent. Using sound design techniques and engineering principles, it is possible to design alternatives that are able to ‘go around’ an existing patent.

Lastly, a great Patent Attorney will be key in determining the feasibility of your invention, as well as the proper guidance for patent preparation and filing.

How we Help

Prototype Monster has the proven experience and trajectory in the IP (Intellectual Property) field required to endeavor the process of invention development, patent preparation and filing.

Using key connections and trusted Agents and Attorneys, we are able to leverage our knowledge for the benefit of our partners. Contact us today to review your product requirements and to craft a unique plan of action.


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