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Austin TX Business Law Blog

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Protecting Your Idea or Concept with a Patent

What types of inventions can be patented?

Many businesses rely on a unique process or concept to achieve success.  Without legal protection, your novel idea is at risk of being copied or stolen.  Thankfully, some small business owners can protect their inventions by filing for a patent.  Patent law is complex and not every idea will qualify for legal protections.  Our Austin, Texas patents lawyer at The Kumar Law Firm PLLC explores the basics of patent law and what ideas or concepts you may be able to patent below.

What inventions qualify for patent protection?

The first steps towards determining whether your business could benefit from a patent is assessing whether you have a patentable invention.  Some inventions, no matter how creative, cannot receive a patent.  Ideas that are simply not patentable include:

  • Mathematical formulas;
  • Laws of nature;
  • Most methods used to perform surgery on humans;
  • Unsafe new drugs;
  • Inventions solely for illegal purposes.

Once you have determined your idea does not fit into the category of prohibited patents, you must then evaluate whether it meets the high standards for a patent.  There are three types of patents:

  1. Utility patents:  Utility patents are granted to people who invent a new and useful process, article of manufacturer, machine, composition of matter, or an improvement on such;
  2. Design patents:  Design patents are granted to the inventors of new, original, and ornamental designs for articles of manufacture;
  3. Plant patents:  Plant patents are issued to those who create or uncover and reproduce a new variety of plant.

It is important to note that business owners cannot patent a business idea, such as a franchise restaurant concept.  You could, however, potentially patent your method of doing business.  All patentable inventions must be distinct from existing ideas.

Filing for Patent Protection 

Patent applications are time consuming and will require that you disclose the nature of your idea, along with a detailed written description and often visual renderings.  You will need to pay several fees to file for a patent.  Given the complexity of patent law, it is highly recommended that you hire a patent attorney who will perform the appropriate prior patent searches and defend your patent should the examiners question its novelty. 

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