When you invent a product, you will need to take certain steps to protect your rights with regard to it. Patent law can provide the protections you need, but first you must decide between two different types of patents -- utility patents or design patents. Which type a Texas inventor chooses depends on several factors.
A utility patent protects the composition and manufacturing processes that deal with the product and is the most commonly applied for patent. On the other hand, a design patent protects an invention's design or appearance. For example, soft drink giant Coca Cola more than likely has a design patent for its bottles, which are recognizable nearly everywhere on the planet.
Utility patents are valid for 20 years, but design patents are only valid for 14 years. That does not mean, however, that it is not the best option for an inventor. Design patents are often easier to acquire and the process is often shorter than that of a utility patent. Moreover, they typically cost less and do not require the payment of maintenance fees. However, they do not offer the same level of protection as a utility patent.
As you can see, there are numerous advantages to applying for a design patent, but it will first need to be determined whether it is the right kind of patent for you. A Texas patent law attorney can help you weigh the pros and cons of each type of patent. Once you have made a choice, your attorney can then help you prepare an application that provides you with the best chance of receiving a patent.