1. What is a patent?
2. How long does a patent last?
3. What is a “priority date” and why is it so important?
4. Do I have to register to get patent protection?
5. I’ve filed my own trademarks and copyrights. Why shouldn’t I file my own patent?
6. What is a PCT-International application?
7. I already have something to patent! What should I expect?
8. Can you help me file a patent or respond to a legal notice I have received?
- 1. What is a patent?
What can be patented: utility patents are provided for a new, nonobvious and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter, or improvement of any of the above.Note: In addition to utility patents, encompassing one of the categories above, patent protection is available for (1) ornamental design of an article of manufacture or (2) asexually reproduced plant varieties by design and plant patents.
What cannot be patented: Laws of nature, physical phenomena, abstract ideas, literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works (these can be Copyright protected). Inventions which are not useful or offensive to public morality.
2. How long does a patent last?
A utility patent lasts 20 years from the filing priority date. A design patent lasts for 14 years from the date of grant (not the filing date).
- 3. What is a “priority date” and why is it so important?
A “priority date” is the earliest official filing date that a patent application can receive. This is critical because a patent must be a *new* invention; thus any invention that has been previously disclosed by another to the world can not receive a patent. United States patent law has changed to a “first to file” system as of 2013, which means that the person with the earliest official filing date will receive the patent (in the case of 2 simultaneous inventors or similar).
NOTE: If you yourself have disclosed the invention publicly, you MUST file within 12 months of that disclosure or you will lose your patent rights!
- 4. Do I have to register to get patent protection?
YES!!! Unlike trademarks and copyrights which obtain some basic protections automatically, a patent does NOT receive any protections until properly filed and issued, including following extremely strict procedures and technical specification requirements. Even if you have filed for a patent and obtained it, you are not necessarily safe. A patent may be attacked directly at any point during its life. It is critical that your patent is written as strongly as possible during your initial filing. Changes to an application, especially after a patent has already issued, are extremely limited in scope.
NOTE: If you have an invention, but are still perfecting minor aspects of it, you can file for a “provisional application” which will grant a priority date and give you 12 months to finish your work and file your actual application. However, you MUST file the actual application within 12 months!
- 5. I’ve filed my own trademarks and copyrights. Why shouldn’t I file my own patent?
Those who have handled other areas of legal work may wish to save costs and file for their own patent as well. This is strongly discouraged. Patents have extremely complex and strict requirements. Incorrect action can result in permanent loss of your patent rights. This fact, combined with the implementation of the America Invents Act which has changed United States patent law substantially, leads to a very difficult maze of legal requirements to navigate. Even if you are on a limited budget, it is very highly recommend that you consult with a patent professional before publishing your invention or applying for a patent yourself.
Failing to properly register within the appropriate timeframes can result in the LOSS of your rights!
- 6. What is a PCT-International application?
The “PCT” is the Patent Cooperation Treaty. It is an agreement amongst almost all modern nations to provide relatively uniform and consistent patent protection across the globe. Since publication in one country can cause one to lose protection in another country if a patent is not applied for in time, the PCT steps in and allows an applicant to apply to all the countries they desire protection in simultaneously. In short, it allows a single priority date that can be used by applications in all of the individuals countries.
- 7. I already have something to patent! What should I expect?
Excellent!! It cannot be stressed enough the importance of qualified patent counsel in the patent application process. The patent process is slow and rigorously thorough; it consists of the following general steps:
—Patentability Check: A patent agent or attorney should review the invention to make sure that it meets the requirements to obtain a patent. An appropriate category of patentable subject matter is only one of several criteria required.
—Patent Search: If a patent has been disclosed publicly anywhere in the world by someone else, then the applicant is not the first inventor (thus it is not “new” and not patentable). Therefore, it is critical to do a comprehensive patent search to make sure no prior art exists before investing the large amount of capital required in writing a proper patent. This stage is a critical check that can potentially save thousands of dollars.
—Patent drafting: A professional patent attorney with background in the field of your invention should draft your patent. They must convert your scientific jargon into patent jargon and in some cases can expand your inventive idea beyond the specifics of the exact invention at hand. This stage will take a long time, please allot time appropriately!
—Patent filing: Once a sufficient patent has been drafted fully disclosing and claiming all of the aspects of your invention, it should be filed with the USPTO. The USPTO will perform their own thorough patent search and review the application for required technicalities. In most cases, there will be some form of Office correspondence regarding these specifics.
—Patent issues: If your patent successfully issues, you must remember to pay all necessary maintenance fees within the time allotted to maintain protections for the 20 year duration.
- 8. Can you help me file a patent or respond to a legal notice I have received?
Absolutely! Please call us for a FREE consultation on your matter: (657) 333-6264.