If you’ve ever watched ABC’s hit show, “Shark Tank,” you have probably seen a group of millionaire and billionaire investors ask someone who has come up with a business idea if they have a patent on that idea. Patents are a crucial part of the process of launching a business or new product to the market. For New York and Florida residents with the entrepreneurial spirit, educating yourself on patents could be the difference between success and failure.
What is a patent?
A patent is a tool that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issues to give protection to an invention for a certain period of time. Entrepreneurs who apply for and receive a patent can work on their new idea without the fear of a competitor poaching the idea themselves.
There are several types of patents. The utility patent is often referred to as a “patent for invention” and is usually given to new or improved products. Utility patents are typically good for 20 years.
A design patent is issued to protect the unique look of a manufactured product. If you come up with a new design for the headlights on a vehicle, for instance, you would need to apply for a design patent to protect your new idea.
Anyone who takes the time to come up with and create a new product or idea does so with the expectation that he or she will reap the financial benefits of it. The patent process under business and commercial law is long and tedious and filled with contracts and other legal documents. If you are an inventor or creator, you should work with an attorney who is familiar with patent laws and can help protect the ideas that you have turned into reality.