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The Importance Of Getting A Patent

Aug 17, 2007
Even if you don't invent things for a living, you might still have a great idea. Chances are, if you actually pursued your invention you will have found that you don't exactly have the resources necessary to produce it yourself. Any plans you create will need to be shipped off to someone else. How, though, can you protect your idea from being stolen?

1. What A Patent Means

First of all, you should know that a patent is significantly different from a copyright. All a a patent means it that you have the exclusive rights to profit from a physical invention. Not all inventions are physical. The most common use for patents is for pharmaceuticals and plastics. Things like chemical formulas like drain-o have their own patent for the formula, for example, but the name drain-o will be protected by a copyright instead.

2. Not Everything Can Be Patented

It might be impossible to get a patent if you show off your physical product before you patent it. Furthermore, the more technology and expertice is required to produce the product, the better. Inventions that seem like a no-brainer are more difficult to get a patent for. For example, silly putty.

3. Banned Items

You can't apply for patents on many items - a scientific or mathematical theory or method, a work of art (books, plays, etc. computer programs are included), a way of doing things (eg. a new business method). Many of these things are, instead, covered by copyright.

4. How To Apply For A Patent

You need to visit a patent office to get a patent. First, apply for a patent for your country with the help of a lawyer under a strict non-disclosure agreement. Depending on where you live this can be absurdly expensive or quite cheap. Next, file for patents you might want for the rest of the world. Yes, you have to file individually for every country in the world. Alternatively, you can use the patent co-operation treaty that allows you to apply once and eventually recieve protection in all 126 countries signed up to the treaty.

"The exclusive right granted to a patentee in most countries is the right to prevent or exclude others from making, using, selling, offering to sell or importing the claimed invention. The rights given to the patentee do not include the right to make, use, or sell the invention themselves. The patentee may have to comply with other laws and regulations to make use of the claimed invention. So, for example, a pharmaceutical company may obtain a patent on a new drug but will be unable to market the drug without regulatory approval, or an inventor may patent an improvement to a particular type of laser, but be unable to make or sell the new design without a license from the owner of an earlier broader patent covering lasers of that type."
-Wikipedia
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