What Are Patents Used For?
A patent is a useful tool issued by the USPTO. Once a patent is granted, it gives the patent owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, importing, or otherwise benefitting from your unique and novel invention.
It’s important to note that patent protection provides the right to exclude, which means the person or business holding the patent has the right to seek patent enforcement when they believe patent infringement has occurred. The USPTO is not an enforcement agency, but rather a mechanism for granting the rights of patent protection to the patent holders. If the process of seeking patent protection isn’t performed correctly, the patent obtained might not adequately protect the invention.
What Do Patents Protect?
Patentable subject matter is extremely broad and diverse. Patents can be granted for articles of manufacture, processes, machines, and compositions of matter. In more general terms, those categories often encompass new products, services, business methods, software, and materials. The process for achieving lasting patent protection involves both legal and technical expertise.
There are three different types of patents that may apply to your unique situation including:
Utility Patents: Covering the utility, or use, of an invention, as well as the various elements of the device or system itself, utility patents are very effective for providing all-around protection. Utility patents last for up to 20 years and require periodic maintenance fees.
Design Patents: Design patents apply to the new and original design or aesthetics of an invention. Since they will typically only protect the design of an object, they are generally less expensive to obtain than a utility patent. Design patents last for 15 years from the patent issue date and do not require maintenance fees.
Plant Patents: While utility and design patents are most common, plant patents are available for those who invent new varieties of plants that are capable of asexually reproducing. However, while plant patents are less frequently sought after, they can be very valuable assets. Plant patents last for 20 years and do not require maintenance fees.
Knowing how best to utilize the laws governing the USPTO’s process, our patent attorneys and agents work diligently to obtain the most advantageous protection possible.
Patent Frequently Asked Questions
What type of protection should we seek?
First, we assist in helping to determine what type of intellectual property protection is needed e.g. a patent, trademark, or copyright. While our entire team is well-versed in patent law, our attorneys also have extensive experience in other areas of intellectual property, which can often be paired to bolster the protection of your intellectual property with protection mechanisms that are most valuable and best suited for your particular needs.
Is the concept patentable?Next, we’ll be looking into the actual patentability of the invention by answering questions like: who is able to apply for the patent? Is the invention patentable? Is it advantageous to patent and for how long is a patent needed? Will the costs of patent be outweighed by the potential gain?
Does the patent already exist?
Performing an in-depth patent search for previous public disclosures is a crucial step in the preliminary phases of seeking patent protection. Our patent searches are extensive and include foreign patents and publications.
What type of patent is best?
Discovering the best form of patent protection for your invention and goals going forward takes strategic thinking. When looking at Utility Patents, for example, inventors have two options with either a non-provisional patent application or a provisional patent application. We help our clients choose the most appropriate course of action for their situation.
Are we ready to file for the patent?
Getting our clients ready to actually file their patent application is completed by answering questions like: How much does a patent application cost? How long do patent applications take? Do we need to seek international protection as well?
Submitting a patent application?
Helping our clients submit their patent applications is what we do best. Filing typically can be done over the internet for the most common types of patent applications.
The sections included within a patent application vary depending on what type of patent application is being filed. Non-provisional utility patent applications require the following sections to be completed in their entirety and in-line with the requirements set forth in Title 35 of the United States Code:
- Patent Title
- Abstract Providing Overview
- Figures and Tables
- Field(s) of Invention
- Brief Summary of the Invention
- Figure Descriptions
- Number References
- Detailed Description
If a patent application is submitted incomplete, it can lead to delays, result in additional government filing fees, and even abandonment if not promptly and correctly amended. That’s why our team works tirelessly to make sure the patent application is complete and submitted in accordance with the USPTO’s requirements to avoid any unnecessary delays or fees.
What is patent infringement?Patent infringement is a violation of the rights granted by the USPTO for patent protection. Except in a limited number of cases where permission is expressly granted by the patent holder, patent infringement occurs when another entity (typically a business) makes, imports, sells, or otherwise takes part in the unauthorized use of your invention.
Patent infringement can also occur indirectly. If another entity induces or contributes to the infringement of your patent rights, you may be able to hold them accountable. Such infringement is referred to as induced and contributory infringement.
How does patent infringement work?When another party infringes upon your patent rights, it may require litigation to hold them accountable and help recover what was lost. This may involve filing a lawsuit to have the other party cease operations in the form of an injunction, as well as seeking compensation for damages incurred as a result of the infringement.
It’s important to note that patent owners need to bring about a patent infringement action within six years from the date of the perceived infringement. To build a case, our team looks at areas such as the validity of the patent, what type of patent infringement may have occurred, and the extent of the damages caused by the infringement.
What do I do after patent infringement occurs?Litigating patent infringement cases takes a unique set of skills and is a service our firm can provide for our clients.While it may seem straightforward, patent litigation involves a keen understanding of the mechanics behind the invention, as well as the federal statutes and applicable case law. We take immense pride in making sure we understand both the invention and the strategic goals our clients have in mind when seeking patent protection.
We work with a wide range of inventors and tailor our approach to meet their needs wherever they may be in a patent dispute. This may pertain to either defensive coverage and fortification against potential litigation or with enforcement of an entity’s patent rights.
How do post-grant reviews work?Post-grant reviews are, in essence, a trial proceeding. This trial is handled by the PTAB according to 35 U.S.C. 282 and other sections of the United States Code. The review process typically starts when an opposing third-party files a petition for the PTAB to review the patentability of one or more claims within a patent within nine months of the patent being granted.The petition for the review is only granted when it can be demonstrated that some portion of the patent was actually unpatentable under the law. When the proceedings actually do occur, the PTAB typically issues a final determination within one year.
Post-grant proceedings are usually highly technical in nature as the patentability of the object in question is examined. Our team is composed of both attorneys and engineering experts that can take the time to understand the nuances of the invention in order to chart the most advantageous path forward for our clients undergoing a post-grant proceeding.
If you have further questions beyond what is listed with these patent resources, please request a consultation here: Request a Consultation | Marks Gray