An Experienced Patent Attorney is Available to Answer Your Questions
What is a patent?
A patent is a type of legal monopoly that excludes others from making, using, offering to sell, selling, or importing the patented invention for a limited time. Patent protection begins upon grant. Subject to certain legal exceptions, U.S. patents terminate twenty years from the date an application is first filed (utility) or fifteen years from issuance (design). A U.S. patent generally has no effect outside of the country. Patent rights can be sold outright. A patent holder can also grant a license to persons or entities who desire to offer products or services that embody the invention, typically in exchange for royalty fees.
What are the different types of patents?
The three primary types of patents in the U.S. are utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. The Law Office of Steven R. Olsen, PLLC is focused primarily on obtaining utility and design patents for its clients. Utility patents can be issued on any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. Design patents concern ornamentation (e.g., shape and texture, but not pure graphics) that is applied to useful devices.
Why should my company (or I) apply for a patent?
Entities and individuals pursue patents for a variety of reasons. Chief among them is to block, or at least slow, marketplace competition. Venture Capitalists (VCs) are often more willing to invest in entities that have the ability to block competitors. Many consumers perceive enhanced value in patented products and services. Universities and so-called non-practicing entities (NPE’s) build patent portfolios for their inherent value, i.e., to sell or license the patented technology. Cross-licensing patents can also be an efficient way to settle costly infringement disputes; for this reason, many companies with products or services in an active technology area build “defensive” patent portfolios.
What is the process for obtaining a patent?
As a threshold matter, an investigation should be undertaken to verify the invention is generally the type of subject matter that is eligible for patent protection, and that there are no actions or inactions that would preclude patenting. In most cases, it is prudent to assess patentability in view of prior art (including issued patents, published patent applications, and non-patent literature). Once these preliminary matters have been completed, a nonprovisional utility patent application can often be prepared, reviewed by the inventor(s), revised, and filed, in a matter of weeks.
There are many possible variations on the above application process. For example, the first filing can be a provisional patent application (which can never ripen into an issued patent absent conversion to a nonprovisional patent application). Subject to treaty limitations, a patent application can first be filed as a foreign or international application before filing a related U.S. patent application.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will publish non-provisional patent applications approx. eighteen months after filing, unless such publication is waived or accelerated by the applicant. Due to current patent application backlog, the USPTO will not usually examine the substance of a patent application for approx. two years from the filing date (although mechanisms are available to expedite examination). In a majority of cases, the USPTO examiner will reject some or all inventive claims in a first Office Action. The applicant, usually through their attorney, then has the option to amend the application and/or argue its merits in response to the Office Action. There may be many such prosecution cycles before the patent application is finally issued, abandoned, or appealed.
During pendency (i.e., after filing and before issuance or abandonment), an applicant may use “patent pending,” “patent applied for,” or similar language in connection with its goods and services that embody the claimed invention. Under certain circumstances, a patent holder may be able to later recover damages for market activities that occurred during pendency.
How much does it cost to obtain a patent?
The total cost to obtain a patent is extremely variable. Factors include the type of application, the complexity and scope of the invention, the applicant’s large/small/micro entity status, the attorney fee structure, and prosecution success. We invite you to Contact Attorney Olsen to discuss.
So, what questions do you have?
Contact patent attorney Steven Olsen through this website or by calling his office at 352-586-6628.