The patent procurement process is an exciting time for an inventor but comes with many legal challenges that can feel overwhelming. Applying for patent protection is an essential and vigorous undertaking, but if completed successfully, an inventor can secure their intellectual property rights to their invention and exclude others from using it. For help with the patent procurement process, and to learn more about your legal rights, contact the experienced patent attorneys at Loop IP Law to schedule a consultation.
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), inventors submitted 645,989 patent applications in 2020, paving the way for their inventions to gain legal protection. Securing patent rights is a remarkable achievement, as the patent process requires extensive background research and preparations.
The basic stages of the application process include drafting a patent application (with drawings as necessary), identifying the patentability of the invention, determining the type of patent, performing a patent search, and, finally, applying for a patent. Once the inventor successfully secures patent rights, it is up to them to ensure that others respect their legal rights and do not infringe on their patent rights. Specifically, the USPTO does not continue to monitor or enforce patent rights; instead, it is the responsibility of the patent holder to monitor and protect their intellectual property.
Not every invention is eligible to be patented under United States patent laws. The design must meet basic and rigorous requirements to qualify for protection. Applicants must show that the invention meets the criteria of novelty under the United States Code and concerns a “non-obvious subject matter.”
An experienced patent attorney can help inventors evaluate their discovery and determine if it may qualify for patent protection. Patent attorneys typically have extensive technical background knowledge, which helps give them a framework to appreciate their client’s inventions. Consulting with one of our dedicated patent attorneys at Loop IP Law can ensure that the inventor understands if their idea is patentable before they begin the often lengthy procurement process.
The next step in obtaining a patent is determining the specific type of patent for which the invention may qualify. There are three categories of patents: utility, design, and plant. Eligible inventors may also qualify for a provisional patent, which, as the USPTO explains, allows inventors to seek preliminary, limited patent protection on a temporary basis while seeking long-term, nonprovisional patent rights.
Determining the appropriate type of patent that the inventor is seeking is an integral part of the procurement process. It helps them understand what they need to submit for proof as evidence of their invention’s patentability.
Before an inventor can apply for patent protection, they must ensure that no one else has patented their idea or any similar idea. The invention must be novel and not obvious to be patentable, which generally means it is not merely a simple reconfiguration of an existing idea, design, or tool. Performing a patent search is no small undertaking, and many people choose to call on the help of an experienced patent attorney to ensure their legal and intellectual property rights remain protected.
The next stage is to apply for patent protection. The first step is determining if the inventor wishes to secure provisional or nonprovisional status. Provisional status is typically appropriate if the inventor seeks temporary protection while they finalize their work and prepare to apply for long-term rights. In contrast, nonprovisional status is best suited for those ready to seek long-term patent protection.
Preparing the patent application is an extensive project, requiring the applicant to provide a host of documents that vary depending on the type of patent for which they are applying. Additionally, once the inventor submits the application, the USPTO performs the examination process, during which the inventor may need to submit additional documentation. For help with the application process, consider scheduling a consultation with the our experienced Seattle-based patent attorneys at Loop IP Law.
Congratulations! You have a patent! However, as a patent holder, you still have the obligation and responsibility to ensure that no entity infringes on your legal rights. Once an inventor secures rights to a patent, they can exclude others from making, using, or selling their invention. This accomplishment allows them to market their designs or product freely and take the idea to greater heights. Part of the responsibility of the patent holder is to monitor and protect their rights and enforce those rights when others use their invention without permission.
The patent procurement process is lengthy, and inventors can benefit from the technical knowledge of a patent attorney. There are many valuable services that a patent attorney can perform on behalf of an inventor, such as:
Preparing The Patent Application Is A Significant And Detailed Portion Of The Patent Procurement Process. The Inventor Must Be As Accurate As Possible In The Application To Avoid Delays Or Misunderstandings That May Elongate The Patent Application Process. Patent Attorneys Leverage Their Extensive Knowledge Of Patent Law And The Application Process To Help Their Clients Complete The Procedure.
Patent licensing is an often mutually beneficial way for patent holders to allow others to use their patent rights while reaping the rewards from the hard work it takes to secure a patent. Loop IP Law focuses exclusively on patent, trademark, and other intellectual property matters and regularly helps clients draft and secure patent licensing agreements. For legal help, consider contacting a patent licensing attorney on our team today.