Patent Law

Q: What does the patent application process entail?

    • A: The patent application process is not a straight line, simple A to B to C matter. Many decisions must be made from the very beginning and along the way. Click Here to view the interactive USPTO flow chart and get a better understanding of the process.

patent

Q: What are the fees for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)?

    • A: You can locate the USPTO Fee schedule

here

Q: What can be patented?

    A: There are 3 kinds of Patents: Design Patents, Utility Patents, and Plant Patents.

  • Design Patents cover only the design/appearance of useful objects. They do not cover the function/construction of the object.
  • Utility Patents include: machines, articles of manufacture, methods (processes), compositions of matter (chemicals, cell lines), and improvements to any of the items included in this list.
  • Plant Patents cover plants which are asexually reproducible.

Q: How long is a patent in effect?

    A: It depends what kind of patent you’re applying for.

  • Utility Patents: If maintenance fees are paid on time these patents have a potential life of about 20 years after the US filing date of the earliest patent application upon which the patent is based.
  • Design Patents: Remain valid for 15 years after they are issued with no maintenance fees.
  • Plant Patents: have a 20-year life with no maintenance fees.

Q: Can a patent be renewed?

    A: No, a patent can not be renewed.

Q: Can you have your patent's term extended?

    A: For the vast majority of inventions, no. Typically extensions are only possibly viable for drug patents.

Q: Are patent applications published?

    A: Yes. While patent applications used to be kept private upon request at the time of filing. The American Inventor’s Protection Act of 1999 (AIPA) requires the publication of all nother patent applications.

Q: Does having a patent mean you're free to build and sell your invention?

    A: Not exactly. It means no one else can build and sell your invention.

  • A Dominating Patent can stop you from making or selling your invention, even if you have a patent.

Q: Does a U.S. patent cover foreign countries?

    A: No. However,can stop others from making, using, and selling  or importing a product you have a patent on in this country.

  • You can file an “International Application” within 12 months of the original patent application at the US Patent Office (if you are an American citizen or resident) under the Patent Cooperation Act, but eventually, within 30-31 months, you must file a separate application in each of the countries or territories in which you wish to protect your invention.

Q: If I am not a U.S. Citizen or Resident. Can I get a U.S. Patent?

    A: Yes, if the country you are a citizen of extends the same right to US Citizens (most do).

Trademark Law

Q: Why should you get a trademark?

    A: Trademarks protect consumers by offering an assurance that the product they’re buying is coming from a specific company they trust. They also protect manufactures and sellers by insuring that other companies can’t use a competitors brand name to mislead consumers and discredit your brand.

Q: What is the difference between a trademark and a patent?

    A: A trademark protects a word, logo, and/or symbol applied to a product or used in conjunction with providing a service. A patent, on the other hand, acts as a temporary right to control on the production and/or sale of a good according to thepatent.

Q: How are trademark rights obtained?

    A: In the US and most former British Commonwealth countries (including Canada) there is a “first to use” rule, meaning that trademark rights are obtained by the use of the trademark on a product or service in the market. While registration isn’t mandatory, it does provide advantages.

  • In most other countries there is a “first to file” rule.

Q: Why get a federal trademark registration?

    A: A registered Trademark protects your name/logo nationwide, while an unregistered trademark only protects your mark within the market area in which the trademark is used.

  • In most other countries there is a “first to file” rule.

Q: Can two companies use the same trademark?

    A: The simple answer is yes. As long as the two companies are not in a competing field they can use the same trademark. For instance “Blind” is a trademarked name of a skateboard company, but if a tractor company wanted to use the same name they would be able to do so because their would be little confusion that one company had anything to do with the other. The legal test is, is there a likelihood of confusion?

Q: When should you consider getting a foreign trademark?

    A: If you plan on selling your product internationally it is imperative that you get foreign trademarks before you enter a country or even engage a distributor. You should register your trademarks in each country you plan on selling your product into even if you don’t plan on expanding your business there until right away. If you don’t and your brands recognition expands to that country it is very likely someone else will register and  use your trademark to sell a knock off version of your product.