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Can You Patent a 3D Printed Product? Here’s the Answer!

Can You Patent a 3D Printed Product? Here’s the Answer! | 3D Printing Spot

Updated by

The Spot Team

/

November 3, 2020

3D printers are an innovative invention, and we can create so many different objects or products with them. It is normal to wonder, after you made something so unique, whether you would be able to patent that product/idea to prevent people from stealing it.

3D objects can be patented. The process to patent a 3D object is identical to the patenting process of any other object or idea. Once the process to submit a patent is started – filling out an application, paying the fee, and waiting for the approval/denial – the product is protected for 20 years.

Knowing when and how to file an application for a patent can be daunting.  The security of having a patent is knowing that your idea/product/invention is secure and that no one can take your idea away from you.  Read on to learn more about why you should patent your product and to discover a step-by-step guide about submitting a patent to the United States Patent Office.

Table of contents:

Why Should You Patent Your 3D Printed Product?

Getting a patent on your idea or product is essential if you do not want someone to steal or copy your idea.  In the world of business, patents are especially important so that you can make sure that the object that you created is safe and is yours alone.  Below are a few reasons why you should patent your 3d printed object.

When your 3D product is patented:

  • Your idea or product is now secure, and it is yours.
  • You are protecting your companies’ interest in business so that you are the sole producer of the product.
  • For the length of your patent, (typically 20 years) you have time and recourses to perfect your product or idea. At that time, no other manufacturers are allowed to use the same idea or product.

That valuable time while under a patent can make or break a product. Imagine 20 secured years of knowing that no one can take your idea and create a better, cheaper product. After putting all the hard work to create a new and exciting product, you should submit a patent.

Submitting a Patent on a 3D Product

The time has come. You have finally created the product you have been dreaming of, or at least have a concrete plan, and it is time to apply for a patent.  But where to begin?  Here are six easy steps to help you file your patent.

  • Decide whether you need a patent, or whether you need a patent in addition to a trademark or copyright, etc.  Certain types of products need more than just a patent.  A product with a catchphrase or a slogan may also require a trademark or copyright.
  • Make sure that your product can be patented.  You can check here to see if your product is able to be patented.  You also need to make sure that no one else has patented the product and that the product or process has not already been officially released to the public.
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the three different types of patents that you can apply for:
  • Design – this is for a new and original idea/product
  • Plant – for inventing a new species of plant
  • Utility – this is for a new and useful process that was created
  • Once you determine which patent suits your product, you can then move on to the application.
  • Fill out your application and submit it with the application fee, typically around $200. Typically, most patents can be submitted online with the United States Patent Office.
  • Make the necessary corrections. If you need to fix your application or it is missing key components, you will be notified and must correct it to continue.
  • Wait to receive your approval, and in some cases, a denial.  Typically, this will come registered mail.

The process of submitting for your patent is easy; the hardest part is always waiting for the decision. Currently, the wait time is about 25 months.

Why Your 3D Patent is Denied and What To Do

After putting in the hard work, it can be disheartening to have your patent denied.  There are three general reasons why a patent is denied:

  • The application was not completed correctly or was incomplete
  • The idea is obvious (like the wheel or creating a television – anything that is already public knowledge or easily understood); or
  • The idea is not new

Once you determine why your patent was denied, you can determine which action to take to get your patent approved.  At this point, you have two different options.

Appeal Your Denial

This will be the first action you want to take once your patent is denied.  It is an involved process and consists of:

  • Filling out an official appeal form from the US patent office
  • Write a detailed explanation of why you believe they were wrong in denying your patent and advise them you would like it to be reconsidered.
  • Pay another filing fee and submit the application with the written explanation.  Instead of the normal process, the appeal will go straight to the patent board.
  • Finally, they will arrange an oral hearing that you need to attend when summoned.

Once you finish, again, your patent will be approved or denied.  

File a Continuity Application

Filing a continuity application is similar to filing the original application, and it does require its own fee.  This application will focus on parts of the prior application that need more explanation or examination.  If you file this application, be sure to showcase the evidence that focuses on the part of the application that was denied.  It is similar to the appeal but does not require you to show up for a hearing.  

Either choice will be lengthy, and it will most likely require you to hire a patent attorney to be there to guide you through the process.

What Companies Have Submitted Patents for 3D Products?

With growing technology, many companies have been using 3D printers to create parts of, or the entire product that they sell.  Here is a list of some of the patented objects and technologies from some of the top companies worldwide:

  • Boeing – Multiple parts for air and jetliner
  • VoxelJet AG – Construction of a 3D Printing Device for Producing Components of a 3D Pringing Device (more of the printer itself)

  • Xerox – Systems and methods for implementing high-speed final surface curing for three dimensional (3D) printed parts and components
  • Goodman Technologies – 3D printing of silicon carbide structures
  • Invisalign – creating a 3D printed mold of patients teeth, and 3D print the aligners that patients use to straighten their teeth

While some of these companies patent an actual product, like Boeing, other companies patent the process they created. This is done, so they are the only ones that can use the breakthrough technology in the 3D printing world. Well, for the next 20 years, at least.

Conclusion

As you have gathered from reading this article, you can patent a 3d printed product.  That is, as long as that product isn’t an obvious idea and is new and original. Obtaining a patent for your product is a must if you want to guarantee that no one can steal or copy your idea.  Now that you have information about how to submit your patent, how to file an appeal, and more, you are well on your way to patent your 3D product or idea.

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Can You Patent a 3D Printed Product? Here’s the Answer!

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