Patent Law Basics
Patent Law Basics
Michael Cohen (Michael N. Cohen, Esq.) gives expert video advice on: Who issues patents?; What kinds of inventions can be patented?; How long does a patent last? and more...
Who issues patents?
The first step for obtaining a patent is to typically get a search. You want to see if your invention is available or has someone else already attained a patent on it. From there, you then file a patent with the United States Patent Trademark Office.
Who can acquire a patent?
Anyone can acquire a patent. Any individual, or a patent can be assigned to a company as well.
What kinds of inventions can be patented?
Anything under the sun is patentable. However there are exceptions to that. For example, the problem we have the most is that people want to patent just mere ideas. Ideas in and of themselves are not patentable. They have to be incorporated into something, into an invention. So the idea for pressing pants, that idea, if it was new, is not patentable. But if you had a novel and unique pants presser, that is patentable.
How long does a patent last?
How long a patent lasts depends on what kind of patent you have as there's different forms. There's utility, there's design, and there's plant patents as well. They're going to vary in term, but generally patents do last twenty years.
Can a great idea or concept be patented?
Ideas are not generally patentable although great ideas can be used. There's plenty of ideas out there, but if you have one you want to incorporate or manifest it into an invention, that being a device or apparatus, software, something like that, then it becomes able to be patented.
Can I obtain a copy of a specific patent?
You can obtain a copy of a patent, and it is available to the public. Issued patents are available at the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Furthermore with pending applications, if they're pending for more than 18 months, they're also available. The best place to go is the United States Patent and Trademark Office website which is www.uspto.gov
Can I obtain a patent on an exisiting idea or concept?
People often come to me because they want to patent an existing product or device, but they have made some modification to it. And they often think that if they change it by a certain percentage or degree, it's good enough. There is no magic percentage or magic number for changing it. It does have to be distinguishable. New improvements thereof are patentable, but it does have to be distinguishable and it's really on a case-by-case basis.
Can someone obtain copies of my pending patent application?
Your pending patent application may be available to the public. Generally, prior to 18 months from the filing date, your patent is not available to the public. Thereafter, it can be accessible at the United States Patent and Trademark Office or on their website. There is one exception, if you want to maintain the confidentiality prior to publication, you can do so if you fill out the patent proper forms.
What can I do if someone tries to violate my patent?
If you believe that your patent application has been infringed, first of all you have to have an issued patent in order to do anything about it. If you have a pending application, you may be able to send cease and desist letters to give notice to the potential infringer. But if your patent application has been infringed, you need to seek a intellectual property attorney, specifically a patent attorney, and to consult with him your rights and remedies against this patent violation.
What is meant by the phrase 'patent pending'?
Patent Pending simply means that your patent has been filed with the United States Patent and Trademark office. Having a patent pending means that you're on your way to obtain an issued patent and it's great for several reasons. Number one, it's great for marketing purposes. It gives notice to potential infringers that you have applied for a patent, and that your patent may ultimately issue.
Can the legal rights to a patent be bought and sold?
Patents are like a bundle of rights, similar to other intellectual property. Patents can be bought and sold. The means to do that is via an “assignment.” An assignment is selling or giving to someone else such as an individual or company, the complete right to a patent. There are other alternatives, such as licensing as well. Licensing gives another individual or company the right to make, use or sell a patent. Actually, you can determine whether or not you give that person the right to make, use, and sell the patent exclusively or non-exclusively.
What is a 'provisional patent'?
A provisional patent is similar to an actual patent application. What it does is if you file provisional application it secures your patent filing date for a period of one year. You have to file a regular utility application within that year in order to gain benefit of the original patent filing date.