A Patent is a property right granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) 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 time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted. An invention requires novelty, non-obviousness, usefulness, and must be adequately and sufficiently described to be patentable.
First, it is wise to conduct a patent search to determine what similar inventions have already been patented. Next, you need to determine what type of patent to file and ensure all necessary forms are filled out prior to filing. After filing, a Patent Examiner reviews the application and may issue an Office Action citing any objections to the application. If all issues with the application are ultimately resolved, a Notice of Allowance will issue.
Utility Patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, compositions of matters, or any new useful improvement thereof. Design Patents protect an article’s aesthetic appearance, meaning the shape/configuration or surface ornamentation applied to the article. Plant Patents may be granted to anyone who invents/discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct, new variety of plant.
A provisional patent application is a patent filing that allows you to obtain an earlier filing date without triggering the start of the patent term for a non-provisional patent application. The United States is a first-to-file patent system, so being able to establish priority via filing date is important. Often, inventions with a provisional patent application with indicate “Patent Pending.”
Utility and Plant Patents are valid starting on the date the Patent is issued and expire twenty (20) years after the filing date of the earliest non-provisional application upon which the patent is based. Design Patents are valid from fifteen (15) years from the date of issue.
Unfortunately, no. While a Patent may stop others from making an invention in a foreign country and importing it into the U.S., it cannot stop others from making and selling that invention entirely in foreign countries. To obtain international Patent coverage, U.S. Patent applications must be filed in each of the desired countries.
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