Patents are one form of intellectual property. You have heard about patenting and perhaps you have already taken an invention through that process. The principle criteria for patentability are that the invention must
- be novel (new to the world)
- be useful (have an actual use)
- be non-obvious to those skilled in the art
Every country has its own laws regulating patentability, and where you file a patent application is a major strategic decision. In the United States, the US Patent and Trademark Office handles applications for legal protection in the US for three broad categories: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. The majority of research-based inventions fall under the utility patent category.
Our book provides detail on the patenting process. In fact, we devote one full chapter to this topic (Chapter 4). We write not for lawyers but the inventor: in it we outline the roles of the inventor, the tech transfer office, possibly external counsel, and other parties, as well as describe the timeline for the process and ensuing protection. We stress the complexity of the process and decisions that must be made, providing enough detail so that you as inventor understand your responsibilities. Our goal is to give enough background so that you can work effectively with your partners to file a patent application and – let’s hope – obtain an issued patent.