Patents protect functional and ornamental aspects of new inventions and designs. Many Southwest Florida businesses and residents, including some residing in Naples, have been recently awarded patents by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). This comes as no surprise as the City of Naples is a growing technology hub. Naples available for consultation, now boasts more than five technology incubators, has recently hosted several intellectual property conferences and has enjoyed an influx of entrepreneurs seeking to start their technology companies in Naples and the surrounding areas. There are different types of patent and patent applications, including plant patents, design patents, utility patents, non-provisional and provisional patent applications.
After determining the best way to protect a design or invention, the application must be individually tailored and drafted to adequately protect the invention or design. In general, a utility patent protects the way an invention is used and works. A utility patent may be granted to anyone who invents a new and useful method, process, machine, device, manufactured item, or chemical compound – or any new and useful improvement to the same. Utility patents can be subdivided into mechanical, electrical, chemical, plant and software categories. Based upon United States law, for an invention to be granted a utility patent, the invention must also be useful, novel and non-obvious. It is a patent attorney’s job to carefully craft a patent application to comply with those requirements.
Many Naples and Southwest Florida businesses and inventors hire patent attorneys to ensure that their patent application has the highest probability to be granted a patent by the USPTO. In fact, in 2013 alone, over 100 U.S. Patents were awarded to inventors residing in Naples, including Patent No. 8547247 , which was obtained by one of the Firm’s partners, Mark Terry.
A design patent protects the ornamental design or aesthetic features of an object. Generally speaking, a design patent is governed by the same rules as a utility patent; however, one of the biggest differences is that the patent term, which is the amount of time that a patent may be enforced against others, is 14 years for a design patent compared to 20 years for a utility patent.
Another difference is that a design patent can be much simpler and easier to draft and therefore can be less costly than a utility patent. Another type of patent application is a provisional patent application. A provisional patent application is a legal document filed in the USPTO that allows an inventor to establish an early filing date, but which does not mature into an issued patent unless the applicant files a regular