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Understanding patents

Patents are the most basic type of intellectual property. The purpose of registering patents is to encourage new inventions. Having a patent for a specific invention gives you exclusive rights to manufacture, market and sell the product. This helps startups to expand their ideas without facing stern competition from larger companies. There are three types of patents that a person may file for.

Utility patents are most commonly used in the U.S. They are available for inventors of corporations who have started a new manufacturing process, or created a new machine. This patent also protects existing processes and machinery. The second type of patent available is the design patent. A design patent only protects the outside design of the product, not the working procedures or machinery. Most corporations use design patents to prevent competitors from copying their product design features. The third patent available is a plant patent, which may be filed by anyone who discovers or grows a new plant species. The person must grow the plant asexually without the help of any seeds to secure a plant patent. This patent prevents anyone else from producing or selling the same plant.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office handles all patent applications. Some patent holders believe that having a patent is merely enough, but that is not the case. Whenever you feel that your patent is being threatened by a competitor, you may take drastic action and file a lawsuit. If you are successful, this will result in you forcing your competitor to stop their operations and pay you damages for threatening your patent.

Patent laws are complex and difficult to understand for someone who does not have a legal background. Each patent type has different requirements and information that must be provided to secure it. You want to make sure that there are no loopholes remaining in your patent that your competitors can exploit. This requires the expertise of an experienced patent attorney who may draft your patent to make sure there are no loopholes.

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