When it comes to the legal protection of your ideas and inventions, patenting them is the safest and most secure way to make sure you own the rights and prevent others from copying your intellectual properties. Of course, whilst it might be quite straightforward to patent something that’s obviously a brand new idea, but what is the protocol when your business wants to patent a less blatantly new technology that’s heavily reliant on n a computer or electrical systems? Perhaps a new component to be sold online at RS or a new software system? Please read on to find out.
Is it Original?
The first question you need to ask yourself is if your idea or invention is indeed as original as you assumed it was. Countless enterprising engineers have struck upon an idea they believe to be a goldmine, only to find out once they’ve already invested too much time and resources into it that a very similar offering already exists.
Idea or Invention?
Understand that you can’t patent an idea alone. A patentable idea needs to be a specific description of exactly how your invention will work. Once you’ve filed this claim and it’s found to be a genuinely new invention, you’ll be granted the exclusive rights to it for 20 years. Typical patents often include a number of detailed drawings and need to be explained in both technical and layman terms.
Types of Patent
This depends on the country. In the US there are two kinds of patent – Utility and Design. Utility is more common and is used for 90% of patents. It covers any “new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof.” A design patent, meanwhile, only protects how an invention looks, not how it’s used. In electronics, you’ll generally be filing a utility patent. In electronics, design patents are becoming increasingly more important, of course, particularly with the advent of wearable tech. In the UK, meanwhile, there is no design patent, as all designs are protected through unregistered design rights or registered designs. Also, remember that patents are territorial, so if you take out a patent in the US, it will only be valid in the US. If you want to file a patent in other markets, however, you are free to do so.
- Keep a thorough record of the thought processes behind the idea, with step-by-step instructions on how you arrived at it, how you created and/or built it and what purpose it is intended for.
- Research it to make sure it is eligible for a patent. Does it have commercial value?
- Make sure you have a prototype of your invention or idea completed before filing the patent. When working with hypothetical ideas and concepts, this is obviously more of a challenge.
- Prepare the application making sure to file for the right type of patent and perhaps a provisional patent if there are still more materials required from you.
- File the patent and start changing the world with your incredible idea!