A patent is an intellectual property right granted by U.S. Government to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited number of years in exchange for the public disclosure of the invention once the patent is granted. The right to patent an invention was established over 200 years ago in Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution: “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”
Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed.
There are three different types of patents that may issue:
- Utility patents;
- Design patents; and
- Plant patents.
A utility patent may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new, nonobvious and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.
A design patent may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.
A plant patent may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.
U.S. federal patent law specifies the conditions for patentability. The law also establishes the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to administer the law relating to the granting of patents. Once a patent is issued, the inventor, or patentee, must enforce the patent without aid of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The preparation of an application for a patent and the conducting of the proceedings in the USPTO to obtain the patent is an undertaking requiring the knowledge of U.S. federal patent law and the USPTO rules of practice and procedure, as well as knowledge of the scientific or technical matters involved in the particular invention.
Inventors may prepare their own applications and file them in the USPTO and conduct the proceedings themselves, but unless they are familiar with these matters or study them in detail, they may experience considerable difficulty navigating the patent process. While a patent may be obtained in many cases by persons not skilled in this work, there would be no assurance that the patent obtained would adequately protect the particular invention.
Julie Celum is a licensed patent attorney. Her specialized knowledge, resources and skill give her an edge in navigating the complexities of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Contact Julie today for a free initial consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.