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As an inventor or innovator, your creations are your bread and butter. The idea that someone else could steal your ideas is naturally upsetting. That is why there are laws that help you to protect what you invent or create. Intellectual property laws include patents, which are a way to protect a product, design or other physical creation that is uniquely yours.

However, intellectual property laws can be confusing. There are a lot of rules and regulations regarding patents and getting a patent. The first step is making sure that you need a patent at all.

The point of a patent

According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a patent offers protection for your creation, making it so that nobody else can legally reproduce it. If someone does try to reproduce your work, you have recourse you can take. Essentially, a patent is legal protection that stops people from stealing your work and trying to make it their own.

Patentable items

You may need a patent if you have a unique and original creation. Your creation may be a product, a machine or a process. It could even be a plant or a design. The main requirements are that it is something that can become physical. You cannot patent an idea.

The novelty condition

It is also essential that whatever you want to patent is a new idea. Your invention cannot be something that already exists or that someone else already has come up with. While you can patent upgrades that improve existing products, the upgrade has to be unique and new. Furthermore, your creation cannot be publicly known until after you patent it. Once it becomes public, you cannot get a patent.

If you think you need a patent, make sure that you carefully read the instructions for the application. Following all the requirements helps ensure legal protection for your creation.