Patents are a vital part of protecting a novel invention, and they can be imperative to a company protecting its most successful products. If you are granted a patent, it means you have the right to exclude other people from making, selling or using that product.
If you apply for a patent, there will be three types to choose from, though the type of patent will largely depend on what your product is. The most common type of patent is a utility patent which applies to machines, chemicals and processes. Design patents relate to the look and appearance of a product so as to protect the uniqueness and ornamentation of a product. Last but not least is a plant patent which, you guessed it, deal with plants. Specialized or hybrid plants fall into this category of patents.
Now, in order to qualify for a patent, your product must be unique, novel and "nonobvious." You will have to substantiate why your product meets these qualifiers, in addition to proving that your product has value and is useful.
You have to apply for a patent within one year of making your product publicly available. The application process can take time, so be prepared for an anxious wait -- but you can also help your situation in general by having legal counsel on your side.
Whether it's a patent, a copyright or a trademark, these rights and legal protections are vital to help you company thrive or to ensure that your invention is recognized as "yours."