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Inventors or scientists who create new machines or manufacturing processes may wish to patent their discoveries. The kind of patent they would use is called a mechanical patent. With a mechanical patent, the inventor may be able to maintain exclusive rights for his or her invention.
To obtain a mechanical patent, an inventor will have had to create something that is completely new, as well as something that is useful to an industry. In some areas, there are subjects that are not allowed patents under law, such as mental acts. Once awarded a patent, the inventor will own the right to use, make, sell, and distribute his or her own invention. No other people will be able to do so without the inventor's permission.
A mechanical patent attorney may be used to obtain the patent. He or she can advise the applicant on the application process. At the beginning of this process, the inventor must typically fill out an Invention Disclosure. This will include the name of the invention and the inventor as well as the invention's description, purpose, use, features, advantages, and testing results. It may also call for sketches or photos of the invention. Accuracy and specificity are important here, as these documents will be used to define the invention, and to compare it against any suspected infringements.
Before the patent can be obtained, a patentability search may also be conducted. This will ensure that a patent for the same or a similar invention has not already been filed. Since the search is usually very time consuming, many inventors opt to employ mechanical patent attorneys to conduct the search. If the invention in question does not already have a patent filed, the inventor can then usually file for a patent.
Once the patent is filed for, the inventor receives "patent pending" status for his or her invention. Though this does not guarantee the same protections that a full patent grants, it does afford the inventor a status of limited protection. Patent pending status issues other inventors a warning to not use or lay claim to the invention during its status. If they ignore the status, they may be liable to a penalty under law.
After the patent is filed, a patent examiner will review it. He or she may approve the patent without changes. The patent is often rejected, with changes requested by the patent examiner. The inventor can then make an amendment, or change, and submit it for examination once again. If the examiner finds no faults with the final changes, the mechanical patent is typically granted.