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The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) grants patents for the protection of inventions. Patent holders have the exclusive right to make, use, or sell an invention for a certain period of time. Filing a patent application is a complex process but it is necessary for the legal protection of an invention. The USPTO examines applications and grants patents only to applicants who meet certain requirements. Before applying for a patent, consider the following questions:

1. What can be patented?

Statute 35 U.S. Code § 101 reads that anyone who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent.” The invention, also known as the article, being filed must be useful, functional, and have a purpose. It is also important to keep in mind that patents have expirations dates, after which the rights become public property.

There are two main types of patents, a utility patent and a design patent. A utility patent protects the functional aspects of an article such as the process, machine, or manufacture. The term “process” is defined as a method that includes technical processes. A “machine” is a new tool or invention that performs an intended action, and “manufacture” is used to refer to how articles are made. A utility patent provides broad patent protection that makes it difficult for competing products to avoid patent infringement.

A design patent protects only the external appearance of an article and cannot protect the functional features of an article. It is more difficult to obtain a licensing deal on a design patent because it is difficult to protect different variations of the product. It is possible to obtain both a design and utility patent on an article but the applications must be filed separately. It is important to understand which aspect of the invention that needs to be protected in order to file the correct patent.

2. Is my invention new?

An invention must be new in order to apply for a patent. The patent law defines new as an article that has not already been patented or otherwise available to the public before the date of filing. The article must also not have been described in another patent issued before.

It is necessary to conduct a patent search on all products and technologies related to the invention before filing for a patent to determine the aspects that differentiate it from the others. What makes this invention stand out from other? Identifying what makes the invention unique will be beneficial in the patent application process.

3. Is my invention novel and non-obvious?

In addition to being new, the invention must also be novel. This means that no other invention or product that is in the market can contain all of the elements of your invention. Even if the invention being filed contains one or more differences, it may still be denied. The article must be significantly different from any other article with the same function. In addition, the innovations of the article must be non-obvious to a normal person who possesses no extraordinary skill in the area of technology relating to the invention. The article must not contain any elements that are also found in other similar reference inventions. You must be able to claim your invention as unique and innovative.

4. Am I ready to file a patent application?

A patent cannot be filed on solely an idea or suggestion, it can only be granted to a new machine. One way to get an early filing date on a patent is to complete a provisional patent application to receive a patent pending on the invention. A patent pending gives the owner one year to continue experimenting and working on the project. There must be evidence of experimentation and progress being made on the invention. As an inventor, it is important to keep a detailed record of the changes made to the invention.

In order to increase the chances of approval on a patent application, the inventor must be able to prove that the article is new, novel, and non-obvious. It may also be helpful to contact an attorney to assist in the application process.

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Starting a new business can be a bit scary. Aside from worries of failure, there’s also the hassle of making sure all legal paperwork are properly filed. I reached out to Mr. Wang (Tommy) because of his excellent reviews and reputation and I am so glad I did. He was thorough and meticulous in answering all of my concerns and took time to find out special laws and policies regarding the kind of business I am starting. I could focus on the daily practical side of starting my new office without worry because I felt Tommy was reliable and took my case seriously. My business is opened and it’s all been a smooth start because of Tommy’s help. I have plans to start another business venture in the next few years and I already know I’ll be coming back to Wang IP Law.

The Shindig W.

I came to Tommy for help reviewing a licensing agreement I had secured with a well-known manufacturer. Tommy made sure I understood all the details in the contract and he negotiated with the company to improve my side of the deal. I mentioned to Tommy at my first consultation that we were looking to expand throughout the US and were investing a lot of money to make a big entrance into the market. I did not think I would have my store open so soon but Tommy also has connections with the local area and realtors to help me secure the location for my first store in the Los Angeles area. Tommy works a lot with the local businesses and he understands how to transition from the Asian market to US market. Within 8 months my store was open for business and fully operating. I must recommend Tommy to any business owners looking for help with contracts and improving their side of the deal. Tommy has the knowledge and experience to make sure there is a smooth process to open for business here, and make sure that your company is set up for success.


I think Tommy and his team by far considered the best people to work with in my 16 business years. Beside quick responses to all my inquiries, they also done things right and providing very professional solutions. I’m highly recommending Tommy and his firm to all business owners.

Calvin C.

I have been working on my Utility Patent for almost 4 years. I have hired and fired two very reputable IP firms because with all their expertise and reputation for being some of the top firms in IP Law, I felt a lack of connection and care in my product, time and financial investment. Then I found Tommy and his team. Tommy does not waste time. He and his team are professional and extremely thorough. After 4 years, I finally found a legal team that I felt spent the time to really understand the components of my utility patent. Tommy also very mindful of cost and how and where my money would be better spent. I really feel I am in great hands with Tommy and his team. They have been patient with my revisions. And most importantly, they made me feel that they fully understood the importance this patent is to me. It has been a great and comforting pleasure working with Tommy.


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