A U.S. patent is a contract between an inventor and the government. The inventor discloses an invention to the public, and in return the government gives the patent owner (usually the inventor’s assignee) the right to exclude others from practicing the invention for a limited period of time (currently 20 years after the first effective filing date of the application for patent).
A challenge faced by every owner of an invention is selecting a suitable patent law firm to prepare, file, and prosecute a patent application on the invention. Finding the names of patent law firms is as easy as a using your favorite internet search engine. But once you find a list of firm names – then what?
The answer to who owns “your” software is important in a number of everyday business circum-stances. As the title of the article rhetorically suggests, the answer to “Who owns ‘your’ software?” might be, “not you”. Consider the following 5 scenarios:
There is a Greek myth that Eos, the Goddess of the Dawn, asked Zeus to grant her mortal lover Tithonus immortality – but forgot to ask that the grant include eternal youth. The sad result of the grant language not being quite up to snuff is that Tithonus aged into an eternally-living cricket.
A U.S. provisional patent application – often regarded as an “informal” patent application – essentially functions as a “bookmark” in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, having been accorded a filing date for whatever is contained within the application documents. Thereafter, until the timely filing of a U.S. utility patent application (a “complete application”) claiming priority to the provisional application, no action is taking by the USPTO.