The Patenting Process
The Patenting Process
Michael Cohen (Michael N. Cohen, Esq.) gives expert video advice on: If someone helps me with my invention, do I have to add them to the patent application? and more...
When should I apply for a patent?
Even before finalizing your invention you should seek an intellectual property attorney and apply for a patent. But if you have finalized your invention you should file either provisional or utility patent application as soon as possible.
What is a 'provisional patent application'?
A provisional patent application is an application they file at US patent office and it secures your right for a period of one year. You must file a regular utility patent application prior to the expiration of one year from you original patent filing date.
What is a 'utility patent'?
A utility patent application is pretty much the regular patent application that you hear about. A utility patent protects inventions, and primarily it protects the functionality of the invention, the way it works.
What is a 'design patent'?
A design patent protects the ornamental quality or the aesthetics of something, as opposed to a utility patent application which protects the functionality, the way it works.
If someone helps me with my invention, do I have to add them to the patent application?
If you have friends that have contributed to your idea, the question is whether or not you are going to list them as a co-inventor in your patent application. It really depends on the circumstances and the totality of the circumstances actually. If they contributed significantly and they contributed in a way that was meaningful to the actual invention, then yes, you have to make them co-inventor in your patent application. In fact, if you do not make them co-inventor, the patent application could be nullified and could be deemed as fraud in the eyes of the patent trademark office.
What is the distinction between the inventor and owner of an invention?
On a patent application you will see two listings for people associated with a patent, one is the inventors. The inventor's name, whoever thought of the idea or created the idea will always be listed on a patent application. Ownership of the actual patent may vary though, and can be changed throughout the life of the patent and that's typically deemed to be the assignee. You can assign the patent to someone else, an individual, or a company and they can retain ownership rights of the patent.
What rights do I have to an invention that is conceived while I am employed?
If you thought of an idea while you were working within the scope of an employer, the employer may own the rights to your invention. There's a series of elements to determine whether or not you're the owner, or whether the employer's the owner. Generally, if you thought of the idea while working for the employer at his premises while he's paying you and you are using his materials, and there are a few other elements as well, the application can be deemed his. However, if you thought of the idea on your own at home using your own money, there's an argument to be made that it's your own idea.