Patent Law



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.

Copyright HG.org

Know your Rights!

Articles About Patent Law

  • Brilliant Ideas Need Protection: Trademarks, Copyrights and Patents
    Brilliant ideas take many forms. It is important to know how to protect them. Learn more.
  • New Ruling on Where Patent Infringement Cases Can Be Litigated
    Intellectual property infringement is a serious problem throughout the world, but patents have been an important topic with the United States Supreme Court since the early 2000s. New rulings have been issued about how and where litigation is permitted based on the owner of the patent and how it affects others.
  • Patent Infringement Cases against the United States Government
    Patent infringement is possible with almost any person or entity including the United States government, agencies and agents. When these issues arise, the owner of the patent needs to know what to do, how to proceed, who to contact and why time is of the essence.
  • Supreme Court Decision Reduces Post-Sale Intellectual Property Rights
    Intellectual property rights are important to the owner, but this could change due to a sale of the IP based on changes implemented by the Supreme Court. Once a copyright, trademark or similar intellectual property has been sold, it no longer has the same rights it did prior to the sale, and this is important to understand for the owners.
  • Defending an Intellectual Property Claim Against Obviousness
    When intellectual property is in danger from various claims, it is important to protect it from the numerous issues that may arise. This may mean litigating against the government for claims against obviousness and other complications, and in doing so, it may be possible to ensure that trademarks, patents, copyrights and trade secrets are safe from these issues.
  • Safe Harbor Provisions for Copyright Infringement
    Copyright infringement is easy to accomplish in the age of the computer and electronics. However, finding a safe haven through various provisions and stipulations is necessary for many that are wading through the various copyright protections so that they are able to remain safe from violations, infringements and breaking Internet Service Provider contracts.
  • Reasons Intellectual Property Is Imperative for Your Business
    Whether the owner of a business has created or own intellectual property, the use of it may be crucial to revenue and imperative to utilize as trademarks, copyrights, patents and trade secrets become more important to the commerce realm. This means a lawyer should be hired to protect these items and keep the owner from committing violations.
  • Prototypes for New Products: Investment and Registration
    When attempting to sell a product, there are many issues that may arise such as registration and documentation problems. If these arise, it may be necessary to hire a lawyer to ensure the concern is valid or if a company is attempting to break a contract or release from the arrangement.
  • Role of an Intellectual Property Lawyer in Today’s World
    Intellectual property is the backbone for many business owners, and this means numerous lawyers are hired to assist with company matters. The role of an intellectual property lawyer may be different since the advent of technology increases and computers revolutionizing the business world, and this means a heightened awareness of what these items are and how they affect the company realm.
  • What Entrepreneurs Must Understand about Intellectual Property
    Intellectual property may be the backbone and foundation of a business venture, and it is crucial that entrepreneurs understand what these items are so they may profit and avoid violations. If the owner of a business has created some concept or work, he or she may be able to market it and keep it protected through intellectual property protections.
  • 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.

Patent Law - International

Organizations For Patent Laws

Publications For Patent Laws




Find a Lawyer

Find a Local Lawyer