Keeping Copycats Away: A Guide to Patents for Hardware Products

Patents are tools you can use to protect your inventions from being copied and sold without your permission. In hardware design, design patents protect the distinctive features of your superficial design, and the utility patent protects your invention’s core technology (the specific size of your mechanism, how your mechanism moves, and the exact parts that make this piece of technology work). Our latest Hardware Guide post offers a guide to patents for hardware products.

Apple MacBook Pro
Apple has a utility patent, U.S. Patent No. 8,441,450, for its "movable track pad with added functionality, that covers design variations in addition to the MacBook Pro's trackpad.​​​​​​​ Utility patents are granted for technology that is new, inventive, and commercially viable.

The article addresses:

  • What a patent is
  • The different types of patents
  • A case study of a patent (Heinz)
  • Whether you should patent your idea
  • How to patent an invention
  • What to do if you spot a copycat

Because applying for a patent is such a huge investment of time and money, it’s important to talk with a licensed attorney before you commit to a patent application. Read our latest post on the Hardware Guide to learn more about patents in the world of hardware development.

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