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Know which type of patent you will need.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) defines a design patent as a patent that “protects only the appearance of an article, but not its structural or functional features.” A utlitity patent, on the other hand, will protect the functional features of your invention.
The USPTO will only grant a utility patent to an invention if it is determined to be “a new, non-obvious and useful: process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter or an improvement to any of [the previously listed items].”
New inventors who would like to patent an idea while working with an invention help company can receive a referral to an independent patent attorney to help prepare and file a U.S. patent application with the USPTO.