Frequently Asked Questions About Patent Protection
What inventions can be patented?
As provided by 35 U.S.C. § 101‚ an invention may be patented if it is both new and non-obvious‚ meaning that there is no other invention like it and there are protectable differences between your invention and any existing products or patents.
The types of inventions that may be patented fall under three categories:
- Utility patents protect the functional aspects of an invention‚ such as the operability‚ beneficial uses‚ and practical uses of the product.
- Design patents protect the ornamental design of an invention‚ such as the visual appearance of furniture‚ cell phones‚ and even computer icons.
- Plant patents protect new varieties of plants that have been bred or cultivated as a new‚ distinct‚ and stable variety.
What rights does a patent provide?
Under 35 U.S.C. § 271‚ a patent essentially prevents others from using‚ making‚ advertising‚ importing‚ or selling the patented invention. However‚ the patent owner does not necessarily have the right to make‚ sell‚ or use the invention if there are existing patents that prevent the owner from using his or her own invention. Therefore‚ it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable patent attorney before advertising or attempting to sell your product on the market.
Which patent application should I file?
If you have an invention that qualifies for a patent‚ you will need to determine whether a design patent‚ a utility patent‚ or both will provide the best protection. A utility patent provides a much broader range of protection than a design patent. A lawyer well-versed in patent laws from Mandour & Associates‚ APC will help you identify which aspects of your invention should and can be protected.
What is a provisional patent application?
A provisional patent application can allow an inventor one year to explore whether the new invention is profitable before pursuing a utility patent. However‚ a provisional application by its nature provides limited protection so we generally advise against filing provisional applications unless there is some urgent reason to do so. Contact a patent attorney to learn more about which application is best suited to your circumstances.
How long does the patent process take?
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)‚ utility patent applications typically take about 2 years to be processed. However‚ the time it takes to complete the entire process of obtaining a patent can vary greatly‚ depending on the invention. Once the application has been submitted and filed‚ a patent examiner will review the details of the application and make any objections or rejections. At this point‚ a patent attorney will be able to respond to the patent examiner and refute any objections.
What is patent pending?
When an inventor has filed a patent application‚ but the patent has not yet been issued or is still undergoing review‚ the public will be alerted that there is a patent pending for the invention. The patent pending notice does not necessarily protect an invention until the patent has been issued. As such‚ another inventor may want to proceed cautiously when seeking a patent for an invention related to an invention that is “patent pending.”
What is a patent search?
Before moving forward with a patent application‚ it may be in your best interest to do a patent search for your invention. A patent attorney will search the worldwide public records of published patents to identify whether a patent is obtainable for your invention.
Can I make money with a patent?
Ultimately‚ a patent excludes others from using‚ selling‚ or making your patented subject matter – it does not guarantee that you will make money from your invention. You can decide to market your patented invention and use your exclusionary rights to maintain a competitive advantage and make money‚ or you may sell or license your patent in order to profit from another party who markets and sells your patented invention.
Will I need a patent attorney?
Although it is possible to pursue a patent for your invention without the help of an attorney‚ it is not recommended. An experienced patent attorney can be a valuable asset throughout the various stages of your patent application process. With years of experience and a strong track record for success‚ the patent law firm of Mandour & Associates‚ APC‚ can provide invaluable insight and guidance when filing for a patent or protecting your patent rights. Contact us to learn more about our services and how we can help you.