What is a Patent?
What is a patent? Read on to find out!
What is a Patent?
Inventors are granted a patent in exchange for publicly disclosing the complete details of their invention. During the period when a patent is enforced a patent holder is given a temporary monopoly. Most patents have a 20 year lifespan from the date of filing of the patent application. After the 20 year time period the technology used in the patent falls into the public domain and can be used by anyone freely.
Having a patent in one country does not grant the patent holder exclusive rights to the same technology in other countries. An inventor needs to file a patent application in each country where they want/need patent protection. Patent holders also must pay maintenance fees to the country they hold a patent in. Failure to pay maintenance fees on time can cause a lapse or forfeiture of patent rights.
How to Get a Patent in 5 Steps
What Can Be Patented?
Any person who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent," subject to the conditions and requirements of the law. The word "process" is defined by law as a process, act or method, and primarily includes industrial or technical processes. The term "machine" used in the statute needs no explanation. The term "manufacture" refers to articles that are made, and includes all manufactured articles. The term "composition of matter" relates to chemical compositions and may include mixtures of ingredients as well as new chemical compounds. These classes of subject matter taken together include practically everything that is made by man and the processes for making the products.
What Can’t Be Patented?
Types of Patents
A) Utility Patent Application: Provisional
A Provisional Patent Application provides immediate protection for your invention while giving you time to file a regular Patent Application. A Provisional Patent allows an inventor to claim "patent pending" status for the invention for 12 months at a fraction of the price of a regular Patent Application. Often five to ten pages, a Provisional Patent Application consists of text and drawings that describe how to make and use your invention. It provides the inventor with a 12 month period to further develop the invention, determine marketability and seek licensing agreements. If you file a regular Patent Application within 12 months of filing the Provisional, you can claim the original Provisional filing date to prove that your invention came before other similar developments.
B) Utility Patent Application: Non-Provisional
A Non-Provisional Patent Application is a regular Patent Application that will protect your invention for 20 years. The US Patent and Trademark Office has very specific requirements for preparing and filing a Non-Provisional Utility Patent Application, which must include a data sheet; a specification; a claim or claims; drawings, when necessary; an oath or declaration; and the prescribed filing, search, and USPTO examination fees. Filing a Non-Provisional Patent allows you to legally claim "patent pending" throughout the duration of the patent process.
Parts of a Patent
Drawings – If relevant each patent should include drawings of the invention.
Specification – The specific section of a patent must include a written description of the invention and of the manner and process of making and using it, and is required to be in such full, clear, concise, and exact terms as to enable any person skilled in the technological area to which the invention pertains to make and use the invention.
The specification must set forth the precise invention for which a patent is solicited, in such manner as to distinguish it from other inventions. It must describe completely a specific embodiment of the process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter, or improvement invented.
Claim(s) – patents conclude with a claims section stating exactly what the inventor claims as novel and unique. The claims section defines the scope of protection afforded by the patent and is the portion of the patent which is used to determine if other parties are infringing on the patent holders invention.
If you would like help with getting a patent you should give the Invention and Patent Professionals at Noro IP a call at 800-605-6993.
September 30, 2011
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Disclaimer: No information on this blog is intended as legal advice or to substitute for legal advice and is offered for informational purposes only.
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