There are many different types of inventions, and each one has its own set of requirements. Patenting an invention can be a complex process, so it’s important to understand the type of patent you want to obtain before you start the process.
The following are some basic ideas for inventions:
Software: Software patents protect computer programs that perform specific tasks or exhibit originality in their design. Software is patentable if it is not merely an improvement over existing technology but rather represents an entirely new way of doing something that was previously known only as art.
Business methods: Business method patents protect innovations in the way businesses operate, such as taking credit cards over the phone or on the Internet. Business method patents do not include claims covering general business practices like advertising or accounting methods; those are more likely to be found within the realm of copyright law than patent law.
Industrial designs: These are generally covered under utility patents, but they can also be registered as trademarks. The key element here is originality; industrial designs must be new and different enough from what’s already out there that they deserve protection from infringement by competitors who might try to copy them.
Design patents: These are primarily intended to protect the look of a product, as opposed to its functionality. They’re not as common as utility patents or trademarks, but they can be useful for designers who are trying to protect their original concepts.
However, not all ideas for inventions are eligible for protection under any kind of patent. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has guidelines that all applicants must follow in order to get a patent, and they’re very specific about what kinds of things can be patented.