District Heights, MD asked in Patents (Intellectual Property) for Maryland

Q: What are steps to patent a process? Can this claim be on the same form as the design or utility patent?

I have a new and useful process to patent.

1 Lawyer Answer
Kevin E. Flynn
Kevin E. Flynn
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Pittsboro, NC

A: There are three types of patents in the US:

plant patents,

design patents (on the ornamental appearance of something), and

utility patents.

The latter is the most common so people frequently say patent rather than utility patent. Within utility patents, the following types of things can be patented.

"Whoever 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 therefor, subject to the conditions and requirements of this title."

So the short answer is that one can file a patent application on a process in the same manner that one does for a new device. All the rules apply. You may need drawings to help explain the process. Sometimes a flow chart makes sense. Other times, you may explain the components that are used in the process. So a process to determine your position may show the array of GPS satellites and a GPS enabled device.

I sometimes tell my clients that a patent claim on a device is a snapshot that describes the various components. A process claim (sometimes called a method claim) describes a sequence of events so it is like a short video.

As with writing any patent claim, you need to try to avoid being more specific than necessary so you do not want to say that step D has to come after steps B and C if steps B, C, and D can be done in any order.

Frequently, a particular idea can be expressed as both an apparatus claim and as a method claim and a patent may contain both types of claims. Sometimes the claim is a variation called a product by process claim where you are claiming a particular product but only if it was made by a particular process (as the product already existed and you cannot get a patent claim that covers the product independent of how it was made).

I hope this helps.

Kevin E Flynn

1 user found this answer helpful

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