Frequently Asked Questions about Patents
There are 21 of our most popular patent faqs listed on this page. Each has a link to more information about that question and/or other content directly relevant to that question. If none of these answer your questions about your invention or seeking patent protection for it, please feel free to schedule a free patent consultation to get you some answers about the best steps for seeking patent protection for your invention.
What is a patent?
A patent is the legal right to control the making, using, and selling of the invention for a limited time. In the United States, utility patents and design patents are issued for different lengths of time. Utility patents and plant patents are issued for 20 years from the application filing date. Design patents are issued for 15 years date of issuance.
What are the patentability criteria for an invention?
The patentability criteria are four requirements that an invention must meet in order to be eligible for a patent. The four patentability criteria are 1) patent eligible subject matter, 2) usefulness, 3) novelty, and 4) non-obviousness.
How long does it take to get a patent issued?
According to the USPTO, it currently takes anywhere from 22 to 30 months to get a patent issued (if the invention is patentable). On average, the USPTO has a current wait time of about 24 months to a final decision. Many factors can affect how long it takes to write, file, and prosecute a patent application in order for an application to have a patent issued.
Need a patent faster? There are several ways of getting patent applications prosecuted faster, many in less than 12 months. Read more about getting your patent application prosecuted faster in our article on accelerating patent applications.
How much does it cost to get a patent?
Estimate $8-10k for a utility patent, and estimate $4-5k for a design patent. The cost to get a patent, or course, depends on the complexity of the individual invention and whether you choose to hire a USPTO registered patent attorney or patent agent. Our patent cost article explains more details about the costs to get a patent.
What does a patent practitioner do?
Inventor Tip: Always verify that any patent practitioner that you work with is licensed by the USPTO. For example, you can check the patent license of our USPTO registered patent attorney, Greg Carson.
When it comes to inventions, what does confidentiality mean?
Disclosures to patent practitioners about inventions are confidential client controlled privilege like talking to a lawyer about a legal matter. Information disclosed about your invention cannot be used or discussed without your permission. You may need or want a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with anyone else. Just like patent attorneys, invention disclosures to patent agents are covered by client controlled privilege.
What is a provisional patent application or PPA?
A provisional patent application (PPA) is a temporary place holder for a later filed non-provisional patent application. A provisional patent application allows you to file an application without formal patent claim(s), oath/declaration, or any information disclosure (prior art) statement. The provisional application is only pending for one year.
Do you need a patent for your invention?
Maybe, maybe not. Whether you need a patent depends several factors. Whether your invention needs a patent depends on several factors such as the nature of the invention, your goals, and the competitive landscape in the relevant industry.
Inventor Tip: If you have an invention you believe is patentable, and patent protection might benefit your creation, we highly recommend you consult with a USPTO registered patent attorney or patent agent to help with assessing the need for a patent. Carson Patents offers a free invention consultation with our patent attorney. Book a video meeting or conference call using this free patent consult appointment link.
What is USPTO entity status?
Entity status refers to the size of the business concern or business interest applying for a patent, conducting a patent validation/verification procedure, or paying a patent maintenance fee. There are three entity status possibilities when paying fees at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The default (regular) is just called fees at the USPTO. These regular fees are discounted by 60% if you qualify as a small entity and by 80% if you qualify as a micro entity for most USPTO filing fees.
What is reduction to practice or making a prototypes for an invention?
Reducing an invention to practice is making the invention. In other words, it is reducing the invention into a tangible form or taking the invention from thoughts and making it so that it can be used. A prototype is an actual reduction. A written description is a reduction constructed with words, or a constructive reduction to practice. Reduction to practice is prototyping.
What does patent pending mean?
Patent pending means a product or activity has an open patent application on file with the patent office. Filing an application for patent protection makes an invention “Patent Pending.” Either filing a provisional, non-provisional, U.S., or international (PCT & Hague) application results in pending status.
What can be patented?
In simplest terms, any invention that is a useful, new, and non-obvious action, thing, or product which is not an abstract idea, law of nature, or natural phenomenon can be patented. Actions are processes and methods. Things or products are machines, manufactures, and compositions of matter. What generally cannot be patented are abstract ideas, laws of nature, and natural phenomenon. These things are not typically patentable because they are the basic tools of science and technology and should belong to all people.
What are patent drawings or figures?
Patent drawings are the figures, diagrams, flowcharts, and charts necessary for a patent application. Patent applications require drawings if the invention “admits of illustration.” Both U.S. and International (PCT) patent applications typically require good, properly formatted drawings. The USPTO and WIPO both have formatting and submittal requirements for the drawings (figures) filed with a patent application. Patent drawings (figures) are frequently necessary to support the claims or show relationships between elements, sequences, operations, procedures, process flows, or process steps of the invention.
What is the connection between antitrust and patent Law?
Patent laws aim to provide inventors with exclusive rights to their inventions. Antitrust laws are designed to prevent monopolies by promoting competition. The connection between antitrust and patent law arises when patent holders use their exclusive intellectual property rights to hinder competition or engage in other anticompetitive behavior.
What are the benefits to obtaining a design patent for a product?
The benefits of design patents include several business advantages. The most critical advantage is the exclusive right to use the design. A design patent provides the owner with 15 years of exclusive rights to the design of the product, meaning no one else can legally manufacture, sell, or use the design without authorization from the patent owner. This also prevents others from using similar designs, protecting the product’s market share and profitability. The existence of a design patent usually deters potential infringers from copying the design.
Design Patents can also create more profit for businesses. A design patent has the potential to increase the market value of a product, by leading to an increase in sales. The exclusivity of the design is often an attraction to customers. Additionally, the issuance of a design patent can also generate licensing opportunities for the owner. Obtaining a design patent can be a valuable investment for businesses that rely on the visual appearance of their products for success.
What are patent claims?
Patent claims are the invention and they define the scope of patent protection. The claims define the subject matter protected by a patent. The language of the claims determines what is patented. Claims must be properly written and supported by the specification and figures of the patent application in order to be patentable.
Inventor Tip: The claims in a patent application can be amended (changed) Also, we offer claim amendment writing and claim revision writing services as part of our patent prosecution services. Read more about writing and filing new patent claims.
What is new matter in a patent application?
New Matter is content not found in either the written description or drawings involving a departure from or an addition to the original disclosure. It cannot be added to the application even if supported by a supplemental oath or declaration. New matter can be shown or claimed only in a separate application.
What is the difference between a utility patent and a design patent?
A utility patent protects the way an article is used and works (35 U.S.C. 101).
A design patent protects the way an article looks (35 U.S.C. 171).
You can get both design and utility patents for an article if invention resides both in its utility and ornamental appearance. Utility and design patents afford legally separate protection. But frequently, the utility and design of a product are not easily separable. Products may possess both functional and ornamental characteristics.
What does novelty mean for an invention?
Novelty means new. In order for an invention to be patentable, it must be new. This means it must not already exist in the world. In other words, novelty means an invention is not found in the prior art. Read more about novelty.
What does non-obvious mean for an invention?
Non-obvious means not obvious. In order for an invention to be patentable, it must be non-obvious. An invention is obvious if there are any number of prior art references that, when combined, would result in essentially the claimed invention. In other words, an invention is non-obvious when it is not disclosed in the prior art. Read more about non-obviousness.
What is prior art?
Prior art is any patent, patent application, non-patent literature, or published disclosure anywhere in the world. Basically prior art can be anything ever patented, everything else that already has already been written about anywhere. You can read more about what prior art is in our what does patentability mean article. If you want to find prior art for your invention yourself, read about how to search in our how to search for prior art article. Searching for prior art is the first step in our 5 steps to patent. Read more about the prior art search