Dear Rich: I am 20 years old and I’m looking to get my idea patented. Which forms are needed for a bookbag-type design? Are all the fees due at the same time the application is turned in or can I just pay the $125? And also, do I file a utility patent or just a design patent? I am still unclear to the distinctions.
Young inventors are an inspiration. Did you know Louis Braille was 15 when he invented the reading system used by blind persons? And Chester Greenwood was 15 when he invented earmuffs. Frank Epperson was 11 when he invented the popsicle (originally called the Epsicle). And Charles Babbage was 19 when he invented the concept of a programmable computer!
Right, you had a question. As for your last question — the distinction between utility and design patents — we talked about this in a recent post. Basically, if you’re trying to protect something functional (like the massaging book bag on the left), seek a utility patent. If you’re trying to protect appearances, like this combo vest/book bag, seek a design patent.
What forms are needed? Filing for a patent requires more than filling out forms and in most cases — particularly for utility patents — requires the assistance of an attorney. You can read more about design patents here, and more about utility patents here. You can find patent forms at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website.
The fees. An applicant for a utility or design patent pays some fees when filing, others during the examination process, and more when the patent issues. If you are filing a provisional patent application and you qualify as a small entity, there is a one-time fee of $125 (soon to be $130) and if you qualify as a micro-entity after March 19, the one-time fee is $65. You can find more patent fees at the USPTO website.