What is Patent Law? It encompasses the branch of law that governs patents. U.S. patent laws were enacted by Congress under its Constitutional grant of authority to protect the discoveries of inventors. A patent is the grant of an exclusive property right to the inventor for the benefits of an invention or improvement, granted by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), for a specific period of time. The invention or idea, by its nature, must be patentable; one skilled in the applicable field must be able to make and use the claimed invention; it must be new (novel) and has not been iterated; its originality must be obvious, meaning the idea cannot be something that anyone in the applicable field of expertise could have easily identified; and it must be useful. Patent law specialists can make a search of patents to determine if the proposed invention is truly unique, and if it appears to be, can file an application, including detailed drawings and specifications.
Only the inventor, or an attorney registered to practice before the USPTO, can prepare and submit a patent application. A legal document, which contains a detailed description of what the invention is and how to make or use it, is issued to the inventor (patentee), which gives the owner of the patent the right to exclude any other person from making, using, or selling the invention covered by the patent.
The USPTO offers the following types of patent applications: 1) utility, which includes a process, a machine, manufactured products, and compounds or mixtures (such as chemical formulas); 2) design, which is a new, original and ornamental design for a manufactured article; and 3) plant inventions, which are any distinct and new variety of cultivated asexually reproduced plants. The USPTO classifies applications for utility and plant inventions into provisional and non-provisional applications. Provisional patent applications may be filed for any invention that has not been publicly disclosed for more than one year from the date of filing. Provisional patent applications do not get examined by the USPTO, but are used as a vehicle to obtain a priority date and may be useful in obtaining “patent pending” status on ideas during final stages of development, or while raising capital or test marketing. The USPTO does not use provisional and non-provisional applications for design inventions. The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is an international agreement for filing patent applications. Although an inventor cannot obtain an international patent through the PCT, it does allow the inventor to file a single international patent application in order to simultaneously seek protection for an invention in over 125 countries worldwide.
The term of a new patent has changed over time and is currently 20 years from the earliest claimed filing date, but all three types of patents require payment of maintenance fees to keep them effective. Once the term has ended, if no extension has been filed and approved, the patented invention enters the public domain. Manufacture of a product upon which there is an existing patent is "patent infringement" which can result in a lawsuit against the infringer with substantial damages granted.
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Articles About Patent Law
- Patent FAQ: When Should You File a Design Patent?In general, a “design patent” protects the way an article looks, as opposed to a “utility patent” that protects the way an article is used and works. In some cases, an invention possesses both functional and ornamental characteristics, and both design and utility patents may be obtained.
- Copyright Office Proposes New Protection for Pre-1772 RecordingsThe U.S. Copyright Office recently recommended that sound recordings made before February 15, 1972 be brought under federal copyright law. Under the current copyright regime, recordings made before that date are protected under state law.
- What is a Patent Troll?Many have read about legal battles fought between large technology companies and entities referred to as “patent trolls” and wondered, “what is a patent troll?” Obviously, it has something to do with patent laws and infringing on someone's patent rights, but what does it really mean? Who does it apply to? Is anyone who asserts a patent infringement a “troll,” or just certain people and entities? Where did the term come from?
- Patent Litigation: Google Vows to Stand Behind Android VendorsAndroid vendors face a growing number of patent lawsuits from competitors, including formidable opponent Apple Inc. However, help may be on the way. Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt recently stated that his company will stand by those firms in any patent lawsuit.
- Is the Patent Fast Track Working?The Track I Prioritized Patent Examination Program appears to be doing its job, according to a recent blog post by Peggy Focarino, the USPTO Commissioner for Patents. The expedited track allow inventors and businesses—for a fee of $4,800—to have their patents processed within 12 months.
- TV Streaming Service Hits Roadblock Under U.S. Copyright LawIn a major victory for broadcasters, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a preliminary injunction against ivi, Inc., a company that streams television programming live and over the Internet. The appeals court ruled that its service likely infringes the copyrights of major broadcasters like NBC, ABC, and FOX, which had filed suit to keep the new technology offline.
- DOJ Monitoring Antitrust Implications of Patent TransfersThe U.S. Department of Justice continues to monitor the potential antitrust implications of patent portfolio transfers, particularly in high-tech industries like wireless. In recent remarks at the Fordham Competition Law Institute’s 39th annual conference on International Antitrust Law and Policy, Acting Assistant Attorney General Joseph Wayland discussed how the DOJ is working to “balance patent rights, competition and innovation in the information age.”
- Copyright FAQ: Can a Copyright Owner Transfer His Rights?As with any other property right, any or all of a copyright owner’s exclusive rights may be transferred. In fact, it is quite common when a copyright owner wants to commercially exploit the work covered by the copyright. Of course, there are certain rules and requirements that must be followed to ensure that a transfer is legally enforceable and protects the rights of the parties involved.
- Can You Patent Happy Hour?Yes, you can patent happy hour, but it is not what you think. A patent was recently granted for a “virtual happy hour” that offers discounted products on gaming and social networking sites at designated times.
- Dyson Sues Samsung to Protect its Intellectual Property RightsBritish manufacturer Dyson, famous for their revolutionary vacuum cleaners and bladeless fans, has instituted legal action against electronics giant Samsung, citing patent infringements.
- All Intellectual Property Law Articles
Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Intellectual Property including: copyright, domain names, licensing law, patents, trade secrets and trademark.
Patent Law - United States
- Patent and Trademark Law Center
American Patent and Trademark Law Center is a professional association of independent registered patent attorneys and specializes in patent, trademark, copyright and related business and government contract matters, such as licenses.
- Patent Cooperation Treaty
The States party to this Treaty (hereinafter called "the Contracting States") constitute a Union for cooperation in the filing, searching, and examination, of applications for the protection of inventions, and for rendering special technical services.
- Patent Law - Definition
United States patent law was established "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;" as provided in the United States Constitution.
- Patent Law - Overview
Patents grant an inventor the right to exclude others from producing or using the inventor's discovery or invention for a limited period of time. U.S. patent laws were enacted by Congress under its Constitutional grant of authority to protect thediscoveries of inventors.
- Patent Law Portal
Our goal is to provide you with the most diverse and current resource center for the professional patent law community and inventors. The Patent Law Portal is the definitive guide for patent information required by inventors and patent professionals alike.
- Trilateral Co-operation
The Trilateral Co-operation was set up in 1983 between * the European Patent Office (EPO), * the Japan Patent Office (JPO) and * the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
- United States Patent Act
The U.S. Patent Act is found in Title 35 of the U.S. Code and contains the federal statutes governing patent law in the United States.
- United States Patent and Trademark Office
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is the Federal agency for granting U.S. patents and registering trademarks.