Updated: May 19
Filing Your Patent
There is no law that prohibits you from filing a patent on an invention that you have acquired by using your own invention. Federal law defines specific criteria on the basis of which the Patent and Trademark Office decides whether the inventions described in the patent application are patentable. The filing fee is filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, where the application is reviewed by a patent examiner. If the patent is granted, the inventor must pay the fee and the government publishes a description of the invention and its uses.
A patent search will give you information about other patents that have already been granted and disclose or suggest an invention. If you want to determine whether an idea is already patented, you have the option to search for existing patents. Inventors often carry out a preliminary search to discover previous patents that prove the use of their invention in other products or services such as medical devices. This search can help them decide whether to seek patents or change the search to increase the likelihood of obtaining a patent. Many inventors prefer to do a preliminary search before filing a patent application, because no one is obliged to do the patent search and because it can provide information that could affect the patented potential of their invention. The possibility of obtaining patent protection for your invention is limited if you do not disclose the invention before filing your patent application.
Protecting Your Patent
While a good patent attorney understands the process of patent prosecution, patent attorneys working in a particular technology area can add immense value by formulating claims to anticipate the development of technology in that area. Timely notification of discoveries is crucial, as you lose patent protection if you do not make your invention public before filing your patent application. The US Patent and Trademark Office publishes patent applications and makes them available on its website. The term of a new patent is currently the date on which you file a patent in the United States. Before this law, patent protection in the United States was 17 years from the date of patenting and lasted up to 20 years if filed on or before that date.
The inventor does not need to apply for a patent to put the invention into practice, but when it is published there is no protection against others who use it. However, the fact that the patent description is publicly available and could appear on a website does not give others the right to manufacture, use or otherwise use this invention without the permission of the inventor.
Most countries grant patents to the first person to file an application, regardless of the competing claims for the invention. You pay a patent application fee in the country where you wish to obtain the patent. In some countries, the first-to-file patent prevails in a dispute between inventors, with the first-to-invent winning if all patent applications are filed within one year. Obtaining a patent in the United States typically takes 18 to 24 months depending on how well the inventor has described the invention in writing. For example, hours are spent examining a patent application to determine whether the invention it describes is really new. After examination of the patent application, it is decided whether it is patentable. The invention is patented and granted by a trained inspector who checks previous inventions and patents and determines whether they are really of a newer nature.
For technologies like smartphones, patent attorneys would probably have to review hundreds of patents, including many patents granted before a new product is introduced.
Working with your Patent Lawyer
In various stages of patenting, inventors will work closely with patent attorneys and contract law firms to obtain the grant of patents. After filing a patent application with the USPTO, the patent attorney and a contract law firm will pursue the patent application seeking grant and file the application with the patent office.
Its All Yours!
Once a patent has been granted, the patent proprietor can take action against anyone accused of infringing that patent. Anyone who applies for a patent on an idea that he has not invented directly will face criminal penalties and the revocation of the patents once they have been granted.
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