In general patents are used to protect an idea, apparatus, or invention. Trademarks are
used to protect a banding name or the name that a seller or manufacture uses for the
product. Copyrights are used to protect work of art such as music, books, painting, and
By definition a patent is a government authority or license conferring a right or title for a
set period, especially the sole right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an
There are generally 3 types of patents, name utility/apparatus/device patents, design
patents and the rare plant pants.
Utility patents protect and cover an apparatus or device and/or a method of either making
the apparatus or device. Design patents cover the ornamental features of an invention,
i.e. what it looks like. Plants patents protect and cover newly created plants.
For utility patents and plant patents
Generally speaking, for utility patents and plant patents their full life term is measured 20 years from the earliest non-provisional application filing date.
In order for the patent to extend to the full 20-year term, all of the maintenance fees must be paid during the life of a utility patent. The utility patent maintenance fee periods are at the 3-year anniversary, at the 7-year anniversary, and at the 11-year anniversary of the patent issuance or grant date.
If the maintenance fees are not paid on time the patent will expire earlier than the maximum 20-year-from-filing term. After the patent expires, the invention becomes public domain and is available to all to make and sell as they please.
For Design Patents
For design patents granted before May 13, 2015, their life term are 14 years from the issue date or grant date. For design patents granted after May 13, 2015, their life term are 15 years from the issue date or grant date. No maintenance fees are required for design patents.
No, once a patent expires, the invention becomes public domain and is available to all to
make and sell as they please.
For utility patents there are four main categories of patentable subject matter, namely Machines, Articles of manufacture, Composition of Matter, and Process. Generally speaking machine are defined as a functional item that comprises of interacting moving parts. Articles of manufacture can be defined as an object that might lack moving parts but provides a function. Composition of Matter can be defined as a combination of chemicals, ingredients or cell lines. Process can be defined as a set of steps for doing an application such as methods of manufacturing, business methods and computer software.
Design patents cover the ornamental features of an invention, i.e. what it looks like.
Plants patents protect and cover newly created plants.
Abstract Ideas, Mathematical Formulas, Physical Law of Nature, Natural Phenomena,
Naturally-occurring products, and Printed Matter are all non-patentable subject matter.
The old guideline for refusing to protect Abstract ideas were that they were not patentable
since they are neither a process, machine, manufacture, nor composition of matter and
thus lack utility because they have no particular use. However, there has been a shift in
the landscape for the patentability of software, computer-based inventions, and business
methods inventions based on some recent court holdings against the patentability of
software, computer-based inventions, and business methods inventions.
There are three major requirements for patentability, namely the invention must be novel,
useful and not obvious.
The criteria for novelty is that the invention covered by the patent application must be
substantially different from anything else that is known to the public. Public knowledge
includes (1) anything that has been previously patented, (2) anything that has been
written about in a publication, and/or (3) anything that has been sold in the open market.
Must have some sort of practical utility to accomplish a useful purpose such as a solution
to an existing problem or concern.
Even if an invention is new, a patent may not be obtained “if the differences between the
subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a
whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having
ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains”, which is also known as
What this means is that during the patent application review process even if the Patent
Examiner cannot find a prior art that is identical to the invention that is being covered in
the patent application, the Patent Examiner may still issue a refusal office action citing
several prior art references that, while not being individually identical to the invention
being covered in the patent application, contains elements or parts which would have
been “obvious” for the Patent Examiner to “combine” to make the invention being
covered in the patent application.
The best way to determine whether your invention is patentable is to talk to a patent
attorney. Most patent attorney will give you a free initial consultation/meeting to give
you a general idea whether your inventions may be patentable.
In order to determine whether your invention is novel (or has been already invented) you
could have a novelty search performed. Patent attorneys usually perform novelty searches
through the US Patent and Trademark Office’s database for issued patents and published
You can also person perform novelty searches through the internet on search engine sites
such as Google ™, Bing ™, and Yahoo ™.
The answer is yes and we often tell potential client to use and one of the search engine
sites such as Google ™, Bing ™, and Yahoo ™. It is our understanding that Google ™
actually may have incorporated some of the US Patent and Trademark Office’s database
into their search engine. You can do a preliminary search of your invention on the U.S.
Patent and Trademark Office’s web site.
As a disclaimer performing patent searches, whether through internet search engines or through the US Patent and Trademark Office’s database requires the use of keyword searching, which is an art that takes a lot of experience to do well. As such result and accuracy will vary with the experience of the searcher.
The answer is: it depends.
A patent is the right to prevent others from making, using or selling your invention. However, having a patent does not necessarily mean you have the right to make, use or sell your invention if an earlier filed and still alive patent encompasses your invention.
The answer is: it depends.
Under current US Patent Rules, you must file a patent
application (either provisional or regular/non-provisional) within one year of the first
publication date, the first date of public use, the first date of public disclosure, or the first
date of sale. If the time period of the first publication date, the first date of public use, the
first date of public disclosure, or the first date of sale is over one year then the invention
becomes public domain and is available to all to make and sell as they please.
If you intend on licensing your idea, you will generally need a patent or you have no property to license. In addition, most companies will not talk to you unless you have some sort of patent protection on file as it is often their policy not to sign non-disclosure/confidentiality documents.
If you intend on making and selling the invention yourself, it is vital that you try and
patent your device or else risk someone else copying and selling your device, especially
if you obtain economic success from your device. Once you obtain patent protection the
very thought of legal action will scare most people away from potentially copying and
selling your device.
The answer is it depends on the scope or breath of your patent and the various restrictions
that were placed on your patent during the patent application review process or patent
You do not need a model or prototype to file for a patent application but instead only
need to have enough information in order to be able to explain your invention to someone
such as a manufacture that is capable of making it. As a rule of thumb if you’re able to
explain to use how to make your invention and/or how your invention works then you
should be able to file for a patent application.
The answer is no. As of March 16, 2013, the US Patent law changed from “first to
invent” to “first inventor to file” which means that the inventor who files first is deemed
by the US Patent Office as the owner of the invention.
This makes it vital to file at the very least a provisional application at the earliest possible
date, so as to be that “first to file”.
Your US Patent does not protect you in any foreign countries and there is currently no worldwide patent available. While there are laws in place which provide
easier filing in other countries, in order to be protected in foreign countries you will have
to file a separate patent application in each of the countries that you want patent
No. As an exchange for the patent giving you an exclusive right to your
invention you must disclose fully disclose the best mode of your invention.
Generally speaking a patent application is prepared and filed with the US Patent and
Trademark Office. The patent application is then assigned to an Examiner for review.
If the US Patent and Trademark Office allows the patent application on the first Office
Action (which is unlikely), then a governmental issue fee and publication fee will have to
be paid in order for the patent application to issue into a patent. If the US Patent and
Trademark Office rejects the application on the first Office Action, which is the usual
case, amendments and arguments can then be made to the US Patent and Trademark
Office Examiner in an effort to persuade the Examiner to grant the patent. If these
amendments and arguments are successful, then the US Patent and Trademark Office will
issue a notice of allowance and governmental issue fee and publication fee will have to
be paid in order for the patent application to issue into a patent.
However, if the arguments are not successful, your application will be finally rejected and
the recourse is to either pay the US Patent and Trademark a fee to further argue the your
case or Appeal to the US Patent Board of Appeals. Sometimes a personal interview with
the Examiner can be arranged preferably before entering the Appeal process to verbally
argue your case.
The American Inventor’s Protection Act of 1999 requires the publication of all
non-provisional patent applications filed after November 29, 2000. This is done eighteen
(18) months after the earliest filing date in the application.
It really depends on the complexity of your invention and how extensive the review process is in the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Yes, if your home country extends the same privilege to U.S. citizens.
This is question that we get asked a lot and our response is that it’s a business decision
that you’ll have to make based on your circumstances.
Reasons to file a provisional application over a regular application
Some of the benefits of Provisional Applications are that they are much cheaper than
regular applications (usually costing about 1/3 as much) and faster to prepare than regular
applications which will allow you establish your priority at the patent office faster and at
a lower cost so that you can go out and discuss, build, market, sell your invention to
others and/or determine whether it’s worth the investment to file the full utility/regular
patent application. In short, similar to the regular application you’ll enjoy the “Patent Pending” Status & Secure your invention with the filing of the Provisional Applications.
Reasons to file a regular application over a provisional application
Some of the benefits of proceeding with a regular application over filing a provisional
application are that if you know that you’re eventually going to file for a regular
application filing for a provisional application first results in just added cost and further
delays in the examining and hopefully in the issuance of your patent.
“Patent Pending” means that you have a patent application filed with the US Patent and
Trademark Office covering your invention.
The governmental filing fee for initially filing a utility patent application is around $500
for micro entities (applicants who make less than $150,000 and have filed 4 or less
patent application), around $1,000 for small entities (most people and companies with
less than 500 employees), and $2,000 for large entities (companies with more than 500