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
- Intellectual Property Rights for Small BusinessProtecting intellectual property is a critical early step in establishing a new business. The process can be complex, but the ability of a business to establish a brand and grow by steps depends on having exclusive use of intellectual property.
- Patent Ownership is Not Based on The Date of PostmarkThe Postmark Is Dead. [This] refers to the notion that a person could prove inventorship and a date of invention by documenting the idea and sending the document through the Postal Service with the postmark as proof of the date of invention.
- Intellectual Property Law: Understanding the BasicsIntellectual property law is an intimidating subject for many business owners. Sure, you’ve heard horror stories about intellectual property being stolen… but that would never happen to you, right? Actually, if you’re in business long enough, there’s a very good chance that your ideas will be stolen. And if you don’t protect yourself, the consequences could be catastrophic.
- 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?
- 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.
- Understanding Trademark InfringementTrademark infringement can be a serious issue, especially if you run a small business that depends on various distribution channels. Do you understand how the laws could affect you?
- Court Rules Copyright Ownership Can Be Transferred Using Electronic SignatureIn a matter of first impression, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that an electronic signature can create a legally binding agreement to transfer copyright ownership. The decision relied on the federal E-Sign Act of 2000, which clarified that contracts cannot be invalidated simply because the signature is in electronic form.
- Entertainment Industry Study Finds Online Piracy GrowingOnline copyright infringement shows no signs of slowing down, according to a new study commissioned by NBCUniversal and prepared by NetNames. Among the study’s findings — 432 million unique Internet users explicitly sought infringing content during just one month in 2013.
- Two Years Later: Where Does the America Invents Act Stand?Congress passed the America Invents Act (AIA) roughly two years ago. However, many of the law’s provisions only became effective on March 16, 2013.
- Google Expands Patent Search ToolGoogle’s Patent Search engine is a valuable and underutilized tool for inventors and businesses. It allows users to search several patent offices at once for granted patents, published patent applications, and even prior art.
- 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 - 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 - Wikipedia
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 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.