Many people can be producing the same thing but have a different process.
This is why some cakes taste better than others, yet they’re the same type.
Processes can differentiate a successful brand or business from a failing one.
If your process is precious to your success, it important to patent it so that no one else can use it without your permission.
This helps you stay ahead of the competition in existence or that which may crop up in the future.
So, Can You Patent a Process?
Yes, it’s possible to patent a process.
Patenting a process involves first understanding the legal definition of a process and obtaining a utility patent to protect your unique process.
There are some requirements by the patenting office for a successful patenting venture.
Foremost, it must have a patentable subject matter, be unique, and have never existed before.
It must have a logical application and should not be obvious.
What Is a Process Patent?
A process patent is a patent given to an individual who has developed a brand new and unique process that alters the traits of physical substances.
If you fail to patent your process, another party can patent it and stop you from using your process.
Therefore, it is wise to protect every process you use to continue using it and prevent other people from stealing it.
How Can You Patent a Process?
The process of patenting a process can be complicated if you have no strategy.
The best pursuit is to create a strategy so that you’re able to measure progress and also know the milestones you reach. After understanding what a process is, you will need to file a utility patent.
The purpose of this category of patents called utility patents is to protect new inventions, processes, machines, and articles of manufacture.
The second step, after understanding what a process is, you need to examine your process from all angles.
If possible, involve a second trained eye to help you figure this out.
This will reduce the chances that your patent is denied. The process is required to be:
1. Have a Patentable Subject Matter
The US Patent office categorizes processes as patentable items and protects them.
The process for manufactured products is a patentable subject matter.
Without a patentable subject matter, you cannot successfully file a patent.
However, the product of the process is not protected by the process patent.
2. Be Brand New
The process you wish to patent should be different from all publicly disclosed and patented processes in existence.
If your process is similar to a publicly disclosed one or a patented one, the USPTO will deny your request for patenting.
There is also a requirement that the process is patented within 12 months of public disclosure.
Using the process in secret will not be counted as part of the 12 months since it is not disclosed.
However, when you reveal the details of the process to the public, you will have 12 months to protect the process under a patent.
3. The Process Cannot Be obvious
The process you are trying to patent must not be obvious to any individual in the field where the process will be applied.
If it is concluded that anyone can figure out or use the process, your application may be denied.
It should show a new way of doing things.
You must also be ready to defend and provide satisfactory evidence that the process differs from all other processes.
A difference that could instantly make your process patentable is whereby the process solves a problem in previous processes.
4. Be Useful (hence the Name Utility)
A utility is a term used majorly in economics to define the usefulness or enjoyment, or satisfaction a consumer or product can obtain from using your process.
You have to pre-establish the usefulness of your process if the utility patent is to go through.
It has to be of notable benefit to society.
Establishing the usefulness of a process can be done by a patent attorney who is experienced in the same.
Who to Approach to Help File My Process Patent
The best way to patent a process is to consult a licensed patent attorney whom you trust.
They are experienced in such matters and will help you throughout the whole process from beginning to end.
Their experience will make it easier for you to overcome common hurdles as you apply for your patent.
In case you are unable to afford a patent attorney, you can use a patent agent who will help you patent your process
After you and your attorney have established that indeed your process is patentable, you must undertake a search and prepare a utility patent application for your process.
This process can be long and tiring.
Actually, some inventors say that the work involved in coming up with a process is equal to the effort needed in patenting it.
If it will be your first time preparing a patent application or not experienced in the same, it is essential to consider having a patent attorney do the work for you.
This will help you increase the chances that your application will be accepted and the scope of protection offered by the patent.
Some people are known to gain massive profits from examining and exploiting loopholes in patents.
Therefore, you should ensure you vigorously protect your process from being stolen by defining its boundaries and scope clearly, prior to filing it.
Sections in a Process Patent
The following are the parts included in a utility patent application form:
- Invention title
- Cross-references to pertinent patent applications
- A statement elucidating any research and Development that is federally sponsored
- Background of the invention
- Invention drawings
- Brief description of the drawings
- Summary of the invention
- Abstract of the invention
- Invention claims
Length of Filing a Patent
The USPTO states that it can take up to two years to grant or deny your patent application.
There is an offer for a Track One Service, which expedites your application to just under a year.
If you’re lucky, you could even obtain feedback on your patent within half the time.
What Are the Benefits of Patenting a Process
Patenting your process is highly beneficial because:
- It gives you the legal right to stop other people, including competitors, from using your process without your permission.
- The patent lasts for 20 years which you can use to build and position yourself in the market above your competition.
- You can peacefully use your process without worry that anyone will copy it from your products.
- You could license it to parties of your choice, which could also provide extra income for you. Actually, some businesses exist solely to collect royalties from licensed patents
Disadvantages of Patents
Patenting a process also has a negative side which can help you gain greater insight into making an informed decision
- Patent applications require you to get into the details of your invention and making these technicalities public. Maybe, keeping the information hidden is the most efficient way of keeping your competition at bay.
- Applying for a utility patent can take up to three years- and since the world is developing fast technologically, your process may become irrelevant by the time you get your patent.
- Whether the patent goes through or not, it will have cost you nonrefundable fees. These fees include searches for existing process patents and attorney’s fees. The best approach is to calculate whether the process will generate enough returns to cover the time, effort, and cost it takes to acquire and maintain its patent.
- Annual fees for each process Patent must be paid; otherwise, the patent will relapse.
- Sometimes, when your patented process is infringed, you may have to defend it in court, which can be a bit expensive. However, the patent can sometimes act as a deterrent, meaning that no defense is needed.
Alternative to Patenting Your Process
If you do not wish to file your process patent, you could protect your process by keeping it a trade secret. No formal application is needed to protect your trade secret.
You do this by sharing information on the same with only your employees.
Since the employees may disclose the process, you can legally bind them using a non-disclosure agreement, preventing them from speaking about your process to unauthorized persons.
You could also include specifications of the repercussions of sharing information on the process with other parties.
These penalties could be financial or legal.