Do I Need a Patent?

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Yes, if you want to protect the unique way your product looks or the unique way your product (or service) functions.

Protect How Your Product Looks - Design patents

Design patents protect the look of a product, rather than the functioning of a product.

For example, a lamp may have a particular shape or ornamental look. The shape or look does not contribute to how the lamp functions.

Another example is a mobile phone. The phone may have a particular overall shape that makes it visually attractive, as opposed to functionally attractive.

In the US, it may take less than a year to obtain a design patent. A US design patent has a life of 14 years. It cannot be renewed.

A design patent gives the patent owner a right to stop another from selling a competing product that looks  "substantially the same" as the patented design. There is no quantitative amount of similarity that makes something substantially the same. Rather, it is judged from the eye of an "ordinary observer."

Protect How Your Product (or Service) Functions - Utility patents

Unlike design patents, utility patents protect the way products (or services) function or work.

Utility patents can protect a new and useful "process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter."

As an example, the lamp or mobile phone described above may be protected by a utility patent, as well as a design patent. This can be true if the lamp or mobile phone have a unique functionality to it.

In the US, it can take two or more years to obtain a utility patent. A US utility patent has a life of 20 years. It cannot be renewed.

A utility patent gives the patent owner a right to stop another from selling a competing product that has each feature of a patent claim. Infringement is not determined by comparing the infringing product with the patented product. A patent claim is that part of the issued patent that defines the metes and bounds of the patented protection.

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Get answers to your questions from a patent lawyer and trademark lawyer. Contact us for a free consultation - by phone or video conference or in person.

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