Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find out if my invention was already out there?
We can assist you with performing a patent search for your invention if you are not familiar with the general state of the art of the field of technology in which your invention lies. However, we typically counsel our clients that it is unnecessary to perform a search if you have a reasonable familiarity with the field of your invention. It should be noted that there is a period of at least 18 months in which patent applications for inventions that might be similar to yours may have been filed, but would be held secret. Since the examination process can take more than a year, at least those applications filed more than 18 months prior to the examiner starting examination of your application, but less than 18 months from the date you filed the application would be available to the Examiner, but would not have been available to us during a search.
How long does it take to get a patent?
The amount of time the US patent and trademark office (USPTO) takes to examine a patent varies significantly depending upon the particular art unit in which the application is to be examined. That is, the particular technology disclosed in the application will significantly impact the amount of time it will take to receive a substantive communication back from the USPTO.
What’s the difference between a patent and a trademark?
A patent protects new and non obvious inventions. An invention can fall in any one of four statutory categories: (1) composition of matter; (2) article of manufacture; (3) process; or (4) machine. In addition, design patents can be granted to provide patent rights to the owner of a new and non-obvious ornamental design. The subject matter of a design patent must be purely ornamental and cannot be functional. Any functional aspects can only be protected by a utility patent. In contrast, trademarks provide a means by which the source of goods and services can be determined. While someone looking at a trademark may not be able to immediately determine the source of the goods, the fact that the trademark is owned by only one entity means that the source of the goods is either the owner of the mark themselves, or a licensee that has attained the right to use the trademark. Any other use is prohibited and would be considered an infringement if there is likely to be confusion as to the source of the goods.
Should I apply for protection in foreign countries?
A patent is only enforceable in the country in which it is filed. For example, almost all United States inventors apply for a patent in the United States. If you want to protect your invention from being made or sold by foreign competitors overseas, you will need to apply for a patent in each and every country in which you want protection. The good news is that there are several ways in which you can streamline the process of applying for foreign patent rights. However, not every invention needs to be protected in a large number of countries. If you would like additional information regarding protecting your inventions in foreign countries, please give us a call.