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Understanding patent protections

With the midwestern portion of the United States being a key region for domestic manufacturing, it stands to reason that many businesses in Michigan or Illinois might need to seek intellectual property protections for certain inventions or developments. The World Intellectual Property Organization indicates that the goal of such protections is to encourage the ongoing innovation and creativity that furthers societal advancements. 

Copyrights, trademarks and patents are common types of intellectual property protections and each is used in select situations. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, there are actually three types of patents that may be applied for. One of these is for the invention of a new design for an item to be manufactured and another is for the invention of a new process for manufacturing something. The third type of patent relates to botany for the asexual reproductive invention of a new type of plant.

Utility patents focus primarily on technical or industrial processes and must be able to demonstrate functional uses and benefits. An invention that fails to be productive may not be eligible for a patent. Abstract concepts are also inelligible for receipt of a patent.

Once a patent is granted, it is the responsibility of the holder to enforce it. Important to note that a patent does not allow a holder to do anything but rather prevents others from copying, leveraging or otherwise benefitting from the patented design, process or plant for a period generally lasting 20 years from the date that the initial filing was made.