PATENT FAQS

At its core, a patent on an invention gives you the legal right to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention in the jurisdiction of the patent.

Importance of a Patent:

  1. Protection: Prevents others from making, using, or selling the invention without permission.
  2. Market Advantage: Provides a competitive edge by securing exclusive rights to the invention.
  3. Monetization: Allows inventors to license or sell their patent rights, generating revenue.
  4. Incentive for Innovation: Encourages investment in research and development by ensuring inventors can benefit from their inventions.
  5. Legal Recourse: Enables inventors to take legal action against infringers.

Can be Patented:

  1. General: To obtain a patent, an invention must be a process, machine, manufacture, or compositions of matter that are new,  useful, and non-obvious.
  2. Improvements: Significant improvements to existing inventions.
  3. Designs: New, original, and ornamental designs for an article of manufacture.

Can’t be Patented:

  1. Abstract Ideas: Theories, algorithms, or mathematical concepts.
  2. Natural Phenomena: Natural laws, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas.
  3. Laws of Nature: Fundamental principles and discoveries that are not man-made.
  4. Non-Useful Inventions: Inventions without practical utility or incapable of being used.

While it is possible to file a patent application without a lawyer, it is highly recommended to hire a patent attorney due to the complexity of the patent process. A patent attorney can provide:

  1. Knowledgeable Guidance:  Attorneys provide experienced and knowledgeable advice on the best strategies for protecting your invention, and if patenting the invention, obtaining protection.  Using a knowledgeable attorney will help getting all the legal requirements met.
  2. Thorough Searches:  Patent attorneys can conduct comprehensive patent searches to determine the novelty of your invention.
  3. Proper Drafting: Drafts a detailed and accurate patent application, reducing the risk of rejection.
  4. Prosecution: Handles communications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and addresses any objections or rejections.
  5. Enforcement: Assists in enforcing your patent rights and dealing with infringement issues.

Utility Patent: Protects new and useful processes, machines, manufactures, or compositions of matter. It covers the functional aspects of an invention and is typically valid after issuance for 20 years from the filing date.

Design Patent: Protects new, original, and ornamental designs for an article of manufacture. It covers the visual appearance of an invention and is typically valid for 15 years from the grant date.

  1. Novelty Assessment: Determines if your invention is novel and non-obvious compared to existing patents and publications.
  2. Risk Mitigation: Identifies potential obstacles and similar inventions that could lead to rejection.
  3. Strategic Planning: Informs your decision on whether to proceed with the patent application.
  4. Cost Savings: Prevents wasted time and money on an invention that may not be patentable.
  5. Legal Insight: Provides patent drafter a reference of other prior inventions in the same or similar areas.

Patents are defined above. On definition of a “trade secret” is that it includes, generally, all types of information, however stored or maintained, which the owner has taken reasonable measures to keep secret and which has independent economic value.

Patents:

  1. Public Disclosure: Requires public disclosure of the invention in exchange for exclusive rights.
  2. Duration: Provides protection for a limited period, typically 20 years for utility patents.
  3. Scope: Protects new and useful inventions and improvements.
  4. Legal Enforcement: Grants the right to exclude others from making, using, offering to sell, or selling the invention.

Trade Secrets:

  1. Confidentiality: Protects information that is kept secret and provides a competitive advantage.
  2. Duration: Can last indefinitely as long as the information remains secret.
  3. Scope: Covers at least formulas, practices, processes, designs, instruments, non-public business information, or compilations of information.
  4. Legal Enforcement: Protects against misappropriation and unauthorized disclosure but does not prevent independent discovery or reverse engineering.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing presented here is meant to be legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is established.  The information provided is for education or entertainment purposes only.  Moreover, the information is introductory and does not include all the relevant information.  If you have specific legal needs, you should consult with an attorney.

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