Case Study

Amazon One-Click Patent

First Page

The most common type of patent is called a Utility patent.

A utility patent is a patent for something useful or functional.  In other words, something that isn’t entirely decorative.  

Examples of useful inventions might include weed killer, an engine, a toaster, or a pencil.  It might also include a component of a larger thing, such as one of the many chemicals in weed killer, the nozzle for the bottle used for spraying the weed killer, a piston in the engine, a spring mechanism in the toaster, or the eraser on the pencil.  

It is important to remember that an invention only needs to have a use – not multiple uses, not a great use, not even the use it was designed for.  A famous example of how easy it can be to satisfy this requirement is someone who goes to their fridge or garage and grabs any liquids they find and combines them into one random mixture.  If they pour that mixture on their lawn, and the grass grows it’s a fertilizer.  If the grass is killed, it’s an herbicide.  Easy.  

No one at the patent office is going to make an inventor prove that something is useful when they file an application.  The issue rarely comes up, so unless it is obvious that that you want to protect is simply how something looks rather than what it does, don’t worry about this too much.

Types of Patents

Utility

A utility patent is a patent for something useful or functional.  In other words, something that isn’t entirely decorative.  

Provisional

A provisional patent is a temporary and informal application that can be used to protect your rights while you write your formal Utility application.

Design

Design patents are different from Utility patents in that they cover decorations, not useful things. 

Utility Patent

A utility patent is a patent for something useful or functional.  In other words, something that isn’t entirely decorative.  

Examples of useful inventions might include weed killer, an engine, a toaster, or a pencil.  It might also include a component of a larger thing, such as one of the many chemicals in weed killer, the nozzle for the bottle used for spraying the weed killer, a piston in the engine, a spring mechanism in the toaster, or the eraser on the pencil.  

It is important to remember that an invention only needs to have a use – not multiple uses, not a great use, not even the use it was designed for.  A famous example of how easy it can be to satisfy this requirement is someone who goes to their fridge or garage and grabs any liquids they find and combines them into one random mixture.  If they pour that mixture on their lawn, and the grass grows it’s a fertilizer.  If the grass is killed, it’s an herbicide.  Easy.  

And no one at the patent office is going to make an inventor prove that something is useful when they file an application.  The issue rarely comes up, so unless its obvious that that you want to protect is simply how something looks rather than what it does, don’t worry about this too much.

Utility patents are the most important type.  When people say “patented” they mean a utility patent.  

Design Patent

Design patents are different from Utility patents in that they cover decorations, not useful things.  Think of clothing, jewelry, and furniture when you think of design patents.  A famous example is the shape of a glass Coke bottle.  When you see that bottle, you immediately associate it with Coke.  But Coke didn’t argue in a Utility patent application that the shape of its bottle made the liquid come out faster or was less likely to break or anything else that was new.  It simply wanted to protect the look of the bottle.  

Design patents are totally different from Utility applications.  They last for less time and are basically just pictures or drawings of something from multiple angles, with very little text description.

Provisional Patent

A lot of times, when an inventor is looking to get a patent cheaply, a Provisional Patent is mentioned.  

A Provisional Patent is not a full patent application.  A provisional patent application is never reviewed by the patent office.  A provisional patent application automatically expires after one year if you don’t file a Utility application.  A provisional patent application is like holding your place in line.  When you’re in a hurry and need to file something quickly, it’s great. 

This most often happens when a someone is going to speak publicly at a convention or conference on short notice.  They might file a provisional application before the speech.  Regular people who don’t file patent applications very often rarely need to file a provisional application in a hurry.  

Instead, small or individual inventors are most often pushed into filing a provisional application because it’s cheap and easy for the patent attorney and most small inventors never follow through.  If you search for “cheap patent application”, you will find lots of people or companies that offer ultra cheap patent applications.  Anything less than about $3500 for a simple Utility application is likely going to be a Provisional application.  

No decent, or even halfway, decent patent attorney can afford to make a living writing patent applications for small inventors for less than $3500 per application.  Law school costs money.  Maintaining a law license, insurance, etc. costs money.  And time costs money.  For every small inventor that has a genuine invention 

Write Your Own Patent Application

Patent lawyers charge an arm and a leg.  Don’t waste your money on something you can do yourself.  Small inventors are better off spending money on producing, distributing, and marketing their inventions than on patent lawyer fees.  You still need protection, just do it yourself!