Utility patents are what most people think of when they hear the word “patent.” A utility patent covers the functional aspects of an invention, and utility patent protection prevents others from making, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing into the United States any product that would infringe the patent. For many businesses, utility patents make up the bulk of the business’ worth. Not only do they protect the business’ products, but they can also form the basis for investment, licensing deals, and partnerships. If you have an idea that you believe may qualify for patent protection, an Alabama utility patent attorney can help you attain it.
Inventions Eligible for Utility Patents
Utility patents cover “any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.” This is a vast category that includes, among others:
- Physical devices
- Industrial processes
- Chemical compounds
- Methods of treatment
- Computer software
- Business methods
Innovations that are not eligible for utility patents are those that involve natural phenomena, laws of nature, or abstract ideas.
Our Alabama Utility Patent Lawyer Outlines Patentability Requirements
An applicant for a utility patent must show that the item to be patented is new, useful, and non-obvious.
- Novelty: An invention is a novel, or “new,” if it is different from every other invention that came before it. This body of work is known as “prior art,” and includes any other inventions that are patented, described in printed publications, on sale, in public use, or otherwise known to the public.
- Utility: An invention is useful if it has a specific, real-world application, even if the invention performs its specific use crudely or poorly.
- Non-Obviousness: An invention is obvious if the differences between the claimed invention and the prior art would have been obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the claimed invention pertains.
The invention must also be described in the patent application with enough detail and specificity to enable a person skilled in the art to which it pertains to make and use the invention without undue experimentation.
How to Obtain a Utility Patent
The process of obtaining a utility patent is known as “patent prosecution.” It begins when the patent applicant files a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which then assigns a patent examiner to study the application and determine whether the invention complies with the patentability requirements above. In most cases, the examiner will issue one or more rejections stating that the invention does not meet the requirements and the reasons why. The applicant may then amend the application to address the examiner’s concerns and re-submit it. This back-and-forth process continues until the examiner allows the application or the applicant abandons it.
Speak to an Alabama Utility Patent Attorney Today
Obtaining a utility patent can be a long and arduous process that requires a great deal of familiarity with the technology involved and an intimate understanding of USPTO procedure and strategy. To maximize your chances of success in obtaining a utility patent, please contact an Alabama utility patent attorney at Adams IP by calling 251-289-9787 or by using our online contact form. We serve clients throughout Alabama including Mobile, Huntsville, and Birmingham.