When Texas inventors find their "million dollar idea," they want to make sure that it actually ends up being profitable for them. Many of them hear about patent law, but might not understand how it works or what it can do for them. They hear that the process of receiving a patent is complex, time consuming and expensive, so they wonder why they should go through it at all.
A patent provides a Texas inventor with certain rights to his or her idea and/or invention. It precludes others from using, making or profiting from the patented material without permission from or compensation to the inventor. Different categories of patents exist depending on the idea or invention.
As the name implies, design patents protect the overall appearance (or design) of a product. A utility patent, which is the most common patent, protects an inventor's interests in chemicals, machines or processes. A plant patent covers new and distinct varieties of plants, including hybrids. In order to receive a patent, the idea or invention must be either non-obvious (covers surprise or unexpected developments) or novel (varies from other similar inventions and cannot already be on the market from another inventor).
Patent law attempts to encourage the development of innovations by providing inventors with incentives and exclusivity for a time. Anyone wanting to use the patented material is legally required to obtain permission and pay the patent holder to use it. If someone fails to follow these guidelines, the patent holder may exercise his or her legal remedies, including litigation. Yes, obtaining a patent can be frustrating, which is why it would be beneficial to engage the services of a patent attorney to fully explain what it can do for an individual and provide guidance throughout the process.
Source: FindLaw, "What Is a Patent?", Accessed on Dec. 23, 2016