How long does a design patent last?

How Long Does a Design Patent Last?

If you have a design that you want to protect with a patent, you're probably wondering how long a design patent lasts? Design patents are a form of intellectual property protection granted by the USPTO to inventors to protect their new and unique designs. Patents allow inventors to prohibit others from using, making, selling, or otherwise profiting from their patented design for a limited period of time. So, how long does a design patent last? We will cover this in the paragraph below.

How Long Does a Design Patent Last?

According to the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office), a design patent filed on or after May 13, 2015 lasts for 15 years from the date the design patent is granted. That said, design patents file before May 13, 2015 are good for 14 years from the date the design patent is granted. Knowing how long your design patent will last depends on when it was filed, so check your filing date and you'll be able to calculate how long your design patent lasts.

The great thing about obtaining a design patent is that unlike utility patents, maintenance fees are not required to keep the patent from expiring at the patent office.

Also, the benefit of applying for a design patent is that the amount of time it takes to prosecute and get a design patent is not deducted from the amount of time a design patent is good for. This is so because the 15 years design patent term starts when the patent office grants the design patent and not when the design patent is filed.

Design patents remain secret while they are pending at the USPTO, they are only published once the patent office grants the design patent application.

What Does a Design Patent Protect?

Design patents protect the aesthetics and nonfunctional appearance of an invention. Said differently, an inventor can use a design patent to protect how his product looks. That said, an inventor cannot use a design patent to protect how his invention works.

While design patents are limited in what they protect, they are important to obtain in circumstances where the look of a product plays a major role in the purchasing decision of customers, i.e., customers purchase the product in part for its unique design. So, while design patents offer limited protection when compared to utility patents, it's worth it to get a design patent if protecting the appearance of your product is important to you.

By obtaining a design patent on the appearance of your product, you will be able to prohibit others from making, using, and selling a product that has a similar design to your product for a limited period of time (usually 15 years for design patents).

Here are some examples of things that a design patent can protect:

  • Jewelry
  • Furniture
  • Beverage containers
  • Computer icons
  • Product packaging

What Does a Design Patent Not Protect?

Design patents do not protect the functional aspects of an invention. The line between what can and cannot be protected by a design patent is sometimes blurred when the appearance of an item is new and unique and offers utility at the same time. Under these circumstances, you should consider filing for both a utility patent and a design patent. Protecting your invention with both types of patents adds value to your intellectual property.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Design Patent?

According to the USPTO, as of July 2019, it takes 20.4 months for the patent office to either grant or deny a design patent application. So, if you're applying for a design patent, expect the process to get a design patent to take 20 months. That said, the patent office also states that you should expect the first office action to be mailed out to you within 14.1 months of filing your design patent application.

How Much Does a Design Patent Cost?

Inventors often choose to obtain a design patent on their invention, in addition to a utility patent, because design patents are almost always less expensive to get than utility patents. The USPTO charges micro-entities a $50 filing fee, $100 filing fee for small entities and a $200 filing fee for large entities.

In addition, to filing fees, design patent applicants have to pay a design patent search fee of $40 for micro-entities, $80 for small entities, and $160 for large entities.

The last fee a design patent applicant has to pay is the design patent examination fee, which is $150 for micro entities, $300 for small entities, and $600 for large entities.

Many individual inventors will qualify as a micro entity, bring the total cost to file a design patent application to $240

If you want to have the drawings for your design patent application to be professional done, you should expect to pay $50 to $100 per drawing, so make room in your budget for $750 for drawings that illustrate your design.

If you choose to have an attorney prepare and file your design patent application, expect to pay them between $1,500 to $3,500, depending on the complexity of the design you're seeking to patent.

In total, you should expect to pay the following to obtain a design patent:

  • USPTO Fees: $240
  • Drawings: $700
  • Attorney Fees: $1,500
  • Total: $2,440

Can a Design Patent be Renewed?

Unfortunately, design patents cannot be renewed once they expire. Design patents are good for 15 years from the date the patent office grants them. At the end of the 15 year patent term, the patent expires and becomes part of the public domain, meaning anyone can use the design without the express consent of the patent holder. No one can renew or extend the design patent term once a design patent expires.

How Long Does a Design Patent Last vs a Utility Patent

As mentioned previously design patent last for 15 years from the date the patent office approves a design patent application. Utility patents, on the other hand, last for 20 years from the date an applicant files his utility patent application. So, utility patent offer lengthier protection, but sometimes prosecuting a utility patent application takes a long term, typically reducing the patent term by 2 to 3 years.

Quick Summary of Design Patent Term

  • Design Patents Filed Before May 13, 2015

    They last for 14 years from the date the patent office grants the design patent.

  • Design Patents Filed On or After May 13, 2015

    They last for 15 years from the date the patent office grants the design patent application
  • Extension

    The USPTO does not grant extensions for design patents

Should You Patent Your Design?

Whether you should patent your design depends on the importance of your design to your product. If the appearance of your product is what makes it sell, then you should go ahead and patent your design by filing a design patent application with the patent office. By obtaining a design patent over your design, you can prohibit copycats from copying your design and passing it off as their own.

How to Patent a Design?

To patent a design, you need to first prepare a design patent application, you need to pay the required patent office fees, and you need to file your design patent application with the USPTO. So, what does preparing your design patent application entail?

You must perform a design patent search to ensure that no one has already patented the design you're seeking to protect. Once you've performed this search, you need to prepare and file a design patent application with the USPTO.

Once you've filed your design patent application with the USPTO, an examiner will examine your application to make sure that all of the required information is accurate and that your design does indeed qualify for design patent protection.

Once the patent examiner completes his examination, if he finds that your application has any deficiencies, he will ask you to correct them, once the deficiencies are corrected, the examiner will either grant or reject your design patent.

Design Patent Term

As mentioned previously, the patent term for design patents is 15 years from the date the USPTO grants an applicant's design patent application. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


utility patents vs design patents

Utility Patent vs Design Patent

If you're an inventor and you have an invention or design that you want to protect you might be wondering what the difference is between a utility patent and a design patent. Utility patents and design patents protect different types of intellectual property. Determining whether you need a utility patent vs a design patent is one of the most important decisions an inventor has to make to protect his intellectual property.

Utility patents are the most commonly applied for patents, making up 93.6% of all patent applications at the USPTO. So what's the difference between a utility patent vs design patent? Read below to find out.

Determining what type of patent you need, as well as how and when to file the patent application are important things an inventor must consider because they will impact the success or failure of their patent application. That said, here are the differences between a utility patent and a design patent.

Utility Patent vs Design Patent

We will now list some of the differences between a utility patent and a design patent.

Utility patents protect how inventions, machines, processes, and software work and how they're used. Design patents, on the other hand, protect the appearance and ornamental characteristics that are applied to an article of manufacture (object).

The main distinction between utility and design patents is that utility patents protect how an invention works and design patents protect how an invention looks.

Intellectual Property

Both a utility patent and a design patent are used to protect the intellectual property rights of an individual with a patent. Patents grant inventors a monopoly over their inventions for a limited period of time, usually 20 years for utility patent and 15 years for design patents.

Type of Protection

Utility patents are used to protect the functional aspects of an invention and how the invention works. Utility patents are used to protect machines, processes, or any improvements of them. Design patents, on the other hand are used to protect the appearance and ornamental characteristics of an article of manufacture (object).

Design patents only protect the appearance of an invention, so competitors can often invent around the design, creating a similar product that looks different.

That said, utility patents are more difficult to design around because they protect the function of the invention. So, although a copycat may introduce a product that looks different from the patented product but works the same way, they can still infringe upon your patent.

Here are some examples of what design patents protect: the shape of a laptop computer, phone, or flower vase. Utility patents protect things like software, microchips, smart phones, and nail clippers.

Length of Protection (Patent Term)

Utility patents last for 20 years from the date an inventor or applicant files their utility patent application with the USPTO, design patents are in different in that they last for 15 years from the date the USPTO grants the design patent application.

Both utility patents and design patents allow the inventor or applicant to restrict others from using, making, selling, and profiting from their protected invention or design for a limited period of time.

During this time, the patent holders are the only ones who are allowed to make and sell the patented invention or design. Patent holders can also sell the patents or license them for use by others.

Please note that although utility patent last longer than design patents, inventors will have to pay utility patent maintenance fees at 3.5 years, 7.5 years, and 11.5 years. That said, for design patents, inventors are not required to pay any maintenance fees.

Cost

When it comes to cost, design patents are much cheaper to to obtain than utility patents. Utility patents are typically more complicated and require more work to prepare and complete.

For utility patents, attorneys typically charge between $5,000 and $15,000+, depending on the complexity of the invention or process an inventor is seeking to protect. For design patents, attorneys typically charge between $2,500 to $3,500, depending on the design an inventor is seeking to protect.

Design patents often cost a fraction of what utility patent cost because utility patents can easily end up costing $10,000+. This is so because attorneys require a lot of time to prepare and draft utility patent application, and they may also have to deal with any rejections from the patent office. This all costs time and money.

Pendency

Now that we've covered cost, let's look at which type of patent can you get quicker, a utility patent or design patent. According to stats from the USPTO, utility patent applications take on average 24.2 months to either get approved or denied by the USPTO. Design patents typically take 20.4 months to either get approved or denied by the USPTO, so design patents are often quicker to get from the patent office.

Probability of Rejection

Design patents have a much lower initial rejection rate than utility patents. In fact, many design patent application receive first action allowance. This is so because design patents are much more straightforward and visual, making it easier to examine than utility patents.

Utility patents often have numerous, broader claims, raising the probability that a patent examiner may reject the application on the grounds that similar prior art exists, the invention is not novel, or the invention is obvious.

How to Get a Utility Patent vs How to Get a Design Patent?

To get a utility patent, inventors have to apply using either a nonprovisional (regular) patent application or a provisional patent application. Inventors applying for utility patents can make several claims for their invention in the patent application.

Often times, inventors choose to file a provisional patent application in place of a nonprovisional patent application because provisional patents are much more simple to file and much cheaper, especially if inventors prepare them themselves. Provisional patent applications give inventors a priority date while allowing them to continue working on their invention and looking for investors to invest in their invention.

To get a design patent, inventors of new designs are required to apply using a design patent application. Unlike utility patents where inventors can use a provisional utility patent application, inventors don't have the option of filing a provisional design patent application, instead they must apply using a regular design patent application.

With utility patent applications, inventors can make several claims about their invention, design patent applications only allow inventors to make (claim) one new and unique design per application. If applicants for a design patent claim more than one design in their application, the patent office may reject the application.

Design patents are particularly important if your design provides your product with a competitive edge. Said differently, if your customers would be satisfied with a competitor's products that has an appearance that's different than yours, it's probably not worth your time and money to patent your design. However, if the appearance of your product is something that draws consumers to your product, obtaining a design patent is extremely import for you to maintain your competitive edge.

Filing Both a Utility Patent Application and a Design Patent Application

If you have an invention that's both unique in its function and appearance, you might want to consider filing both a utility patent application to protect the functional aspects of the invention and a design patent application to protect the appearance of the invention.

Inventors want the best protection possible for their invention, having overlapping utility patent and design patent protection makes your invention or product much more valuable. Design patents have gained importance in recent times, so it's worth spending the extra money to protect the unique appearance of your invention.

Take Apple for example, Apple sued Samsung for infringing upon its design patent for the original iPhone, the jury awarded Apple $359 Million in the Apple vs. Samsung Patent Case. Here is the design that Samsung infringed upon.

This goes to show the importance of protecting your intellectual property with not only a utility patent, but also a design patent. Protecting your IP with a design patent and offering good drawings that clearly illustrate your design makes it easier for you to show infringement if a third party copies your IP.

Benefits of Utility Patents

  • They protect the functional aspects of your invention
  • They offer broad intellectual property protection, making it difficult for a competitor to copy your invention without infringing upon it
  • They are capable of protecting several functional aspects of your invention, using only a single utility patent application

Disadvantages of Utility Patents

  • Utility patents are more difficult to get than design patents because the claims are broader and more numerous
  • They are more costly to prepare and file than design patents
  • Probability of rejection is higher for utility patents than design patents
  • They take longer to get than design patents

Benefits of Design Patents

  • They protect the appearance of your invention or product
  • They are much cheaper to obtain than utility patents
  • They take much less time to obtain than utility patents
  • Higher allowance rate than utility patents

Disadvantages of Design Patents

  • They only protect the specific design you patent, making it easier for others to patent around your design, i.e., make a similar but different design than the one you've patented.
  • Design patents are narrower in scope than utility patents
  • Offer less profit potential than utility patents, making utility patents more valuable

Conclusion

So, if you're in a situation where your invention not only has a unique function, but also a unique appearance, you should consider filing both a utility patent application and a design patent application. We do not recommend that you file both applications on your own, it's a somewhat complicated situation that requires the help of an experienced patent attorney.

If you choose to file both applications with the USPTO, you will enjoy patent pending status while the patent office examines and approves your design and utility patent application.

Are There Other Types of Patents Besides Utility Patents and Design Patents?

The USPTO offers three distinct types of patents. Among them are utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. So, there is a third different type of patent, known as a plant patent.

Plant patents protect new, asexually reproduces species of plant. To be able to get a plant patent, an inventor must show that the plant to be patented must have been asexually reproduced. Asexual reproduction means that the plants were reproduced by means other than by seeds, such as budding, grafting, or layering.

It's important to note that not all countries offer plant patents, fortunately the U.S does to any person that invents or discovers a new, asexually reproduced plant.

Which is Harder to Get Design Patent or Utility Patent?

Utility Patent

Utility patents are harder to get than design patents because preparing the application requires a lot of research, organization, and writing. According to the USPTO, the applicant must provide the following for a utility patent application:

  • Background of the Invention

    The background for the invention must include the field to which the invention relates to, as well as the subject matter of the claimed invention.
  • Brief Summary for the the Invention

    This section should include the general idea of the invention, as well as well as the problems with prior art that your invention solves.
  • Drawings of the Inventions

    All utility patent applications are required to contain drawings if they are necessary to understand the subject matter of the invention. Almost all utility patent applications contain drawings. The drawings must must show every feature of the invention as the applicant specified them in the claims. Make sure the drawings are included at the time you file your patent application because the patent office prohibits adding new photos to an application after the application has been filed. This restrict was put into place to prohibit applicants from adding new matters to the application.
  • Detailed Description of the Invention

    The detailed description of the invention must explain the process involved in making the invention, as well as how to use the invention. The applicant must use language that is clear and concise and must explain how the invention is different from what has already been patented. The description should be good enough so that "a person of ordinary skill in the pertinent art, science, or area could make and use the invention without extensive experimentation."
  • Claims for the Invention

    As part of a utility patent application, inventors must distinctly point out and claim the subject matter of the invention. The claims made in your application will define the scope of protection for your invention. Each patent application must include at least one claim and if you're including several claims, you must number them consecutively.
  • Abstract of the Disclosure

    The abstract is designed to enable both the public and the USPTO to quickly understand what the invention is about. The abstract should point out what's new in your invention and is limited to a single paragraph. Abstracts should no be longer than 150 words.
  • Oath or Declaration

    Once you've completed your utility patent application, you must make an oath (statement) that the inventor believes he is the original inventor and that the utility patent application was made or authorized by him.

Design Patent

Design Patents are easier to get than utility patents and now we'll explain some of the requirements you need to have for design patents:

  • Preamble

    Applicants for design patents have the option of include a preamble that states the name of the applicant, the title of the design and a brief description of the design to be patented.

  • Title

    The title of the design must describe the article to which the design is attached. This is to help the patent examiner perform his search of prior art.
  • Figure Descriptions

    Each drawing or figure of the design must be accompanied by a brief description that indicates the view represented by the drawing, for example: top, right side, left side, bottom, etc.
  • A Single Claim

    Design patent applications are only permitted to make 1 claim, said differently, they can only claim one design. The claim defines what the applicant wants to patent.
  • Drawings

    For design patent application, the drawings disclosure is the most important element of the application. Every application must include either a drawing or black and white photo of the design you're seeking to patent. Make sure that that the drawing is clear and complete because it will determine the scope of protection for your patent.
  • Oath or Declaration

    Once you've completed your design patent application, you must make an oat that you believe you are the original inventor and that the design patent application was made or authorized by you.

Conclusion

As you can tell by the amount of detail that is required to get a utility patent vs getting a design patent, design patents are much easier to get. The design patent application requires considerably less detail than utility patent application.

Who Qualifies for a Utility Patent vs Design Patent

As we previously mentioned, utility patents are the most common type of sought-after patent, making up more than 93% of all applied for patent in 2015. To qualify for a utility patent, an applicant must invent a new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or an improvement thereof.

If an applicant is successful in making this showing, he will be awarded with a utility patent that protects the invention for 20 years from the filing date of his utility patent application. Just remember that if you obtain a patent from the USPTO, you're invention is only protected in the United States. To protect your invention abroad, you must file a patent application in every country you want to be protected in.

To qualify for a design patent, you must have a design that is both new and unique. As mentioned previously, a design patent will only protect the ornamental appearance of the object to which it is attached. A design patent will be limited to what is explicitly depicted in the drawings that are included in the design patent application.

Some products or inventions can qualify for both a utility patent and a design patent. So, if you want to protect your product, consider whether it qualifies for both a utility and design patent. Of course, the design patent will protect the appearance of your product and the utility patent will protect the functional features of your product.

What Happens When Someone Infringes Upon a Utility Patent vs a Design Patent?

If you have a utility patent or design patent that is patent pending, you cannot sue anyone for patent infringement until the USPTO grants your utility or design patent.

Once the patent offices issues or grants your patent, you can enforce your rights under the patent by hiring an attorney to sue any party that infringes upon your patent. You can then sue the party that was infringing upon your patent for infringement that they committed starting from the date you filed your patent application.

That said, the USPTO will not enforce your patent by suing third parties on your behalf. The patent office only grants you your patent, you have to do the rest and enforce your patent by hiring an attorney and bearing the expenses associated with enforcing your rights under the patent.

Design Patent vs Utility Patent

This article explained the differences between design patent and utility patent. We covered the differences between obtaining the two, the length of protection offered by the two types of patents, as well as how easy it is to get a utility patent vs a design patent. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


How to patent a design?

How to Patent a Design?

If you have a design that's worth protecting, you're probably wondering how you can protect your design with a design patent? The USPTO allows designers to protect the ornamental appearance that's applied to an article of manufacture. Said differently, the patent office allows designers to patent the unique look of an object with a design patent.

Patenting a design allows the designer to claim the original design as their own, giving them the ability to use, make, sell, and profit from the design for a limited period of time. Design patents last for 15 years from the date the USPTO grants the design patent application. Design patents are much cheaper to obtain than utility patents. So, how exactly does an individual patent their design?

How to Patent a Design?

To patent a design, an individual must follow the following steps:

  • Your Design Must Qualify for a Design Patent

    Design patents, unlike utility patent, do not protect the invention itself, but rather the way the invention looks. To patent a design, the design must be original and it must be ornamental (for decoration only).

    For example, if you want to patent a pair of nail clippers, a design patent will not protect the way the nail clipper functions, rather it will protect the unique shape or design of the nail clippers.

  • Perform a Patent Search

    Designers should perform a patent search to determine if a similar design has already been patented at the USPTO. If you find designs that are similar to yours, describe how your design differs from the design that's already been patented.
  • Consult with a Patent Attorney

    Consulting with an experienced patent is a great way to patent your invention. Patent attorneys are knowledgeable and experienced in matters that relate with patenting designs. They can research your design patent and prepare the design patent application on your behalf.
  • Prepare Your Design Patent Application

    When preparing your patent application, make sure that you comply with all of the requirements and rules set forth by the patent office. Making even seemingly minor mistakes can get your application rejected.

    The patent office allows one design per application, so describe the design your claiming with as much detail as possible. Also, include professional drawings of your design and give a written description of each drawing. Also, if you need to get an idea as to what your application should look like, you can look at patents that are similar to yours to see how they've described their design.

  • File Your Application with the USPTO

    Once you or your attorney have prepared the patent application, it's time to file it with the USPTO. Micro entities will have to pay a $50 filing fee, small entities will have to pay a $100 filing fee, and large entities will have to pay a $200 filing fee.
  • Communicate with the Patent Examiner

    The patent office will often communicate with you or your patent attorney regarding the status of your design patent application. Do not ignore communications from the USPTO. If they request something, make sure your attorney responds with the appropriate information.

    If the patent examiner allows your application, follow the process and necessary steps to complete your application. Always have your patent application number, filing date, and application title ready when communicating with the USPTO.

    If the USPTO for some reason rejects your design patent application, they will often give you a chance to correct any deficiencies or errors in your application. Of course, if you have to modify your application, you may have to have your attorney respond on your behalf and this will cost you money.

Design Patent Application Contents

Every design patent application must include the following elements:

  • Abstract. You should include an abstract that gives a brief description of the design and intended use of the object to witch your design is attached. Your abstract should not be more than two to three sentences long.
  • Title. The title for your design should be specific and clearly identify the design that you're seeking to patent. Do not use trademarked or marketing terms in the title of your design.
  • Claim. Each design application is only permitted to one claimed design. You cannot patent more than one design per design patent application.
  • Cross Referencing. If you have filed a utility patent application for the object your seeking a design patent for, you should cross-reference the two application by including the utility patent application number and filing date on your design patent application.
  • Drawings. You must submit drawings of your design that illustrate the design you're seeking to protect. You should include a 3D drawing of your design, as well as drawings of the front, back, right, left, top, and bottom sides of the object to witch your design is attached. If you cannot produce these drawings on your own, you can seek the help of a professional artist that specializes in patent drawings, they typically charge between $50 to $100 per drawing.
  • Describe Your Drawings. You should include a short description for every drawing you're attaching to your design patent application.
  • Describe the Design. In addition to including illustrations, the patent office gives you the option to describe your design using words. The illustrations are the most important part of your application, but if you feel the need to describe your design in writing, the patent office allows you to do so.
  • Oath. Every design patent application includes an oath where you declare that you are indeed the inventor for the design you're seeking to protect with a design patent.
  • Pay USPTO Fees. Once you have prepared your patent application, you should file it with the patent office and pay the appropriate fees.

Why is Patenting Your Design Important?

Patenting your design is important because it allows designers to protect their intellectual property from being copied and sold by competitors. Design patents grant designers the right to restrict others from using, making, selling, or importing the patented design for a limited period of time, usually 15 years from the date the USPTO grants the design patent.

During these 15 years, the designer will be able to profit from his design by selling the object holding the design or licensing its use to third parties. Some designs are very important because it's often the first thing that people notice when they see an object. Design patents are often sought to protect the designs of jewelry, footwear, clothing, furniture, and product packaging.

How Much Does it Cost to Patent a Design?

To protect your invention with a design patent, you should expect the following costs:

  • Design Patent Application Filing Fees.

    For micro entities the filing fee is $50, for small entities the filing fee is $100, and for large entities the filing fee is $200.

  • Design Patent Search Fees.

    The USPTO charges a Design Search Fee of $40 for micro entities, $80 for small entities, and $160 for large entities.
  • Design Patent Examination Fees.

    The USPTO charges a design patent examination fee of $150 for micro entities, $300 for small entities, and $600 for large entities.
  • Lawyer Fees.

    If you need the assistance of a patent lawyer to prepare and file your application for you, you should expect to pay between $2,500 and $3,500 in attorneys fees. The fees you pay for an attorney to prepare your design patent application depend on the complexity of the design you're seeking to patent. Note that if you're attorney has to communicate with the patent office or modify your application, this will add more expenses to your bill.

Do you Have to Pay Any Fees After Applying to Patent a Design?

Unfortunately, yes you do have to pay fees after applying for a design patent. If the USPTO grants your design patent, you will have to pay the patent office a Design Patent Issuance Fee. The fee you will pay depends on the size of your entity. Micro entities pay $175, small entities pay $350, and large entities pay $700.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Design Patent?

As of May 2019, the USPTO states that it takes 20.5 months to get a design patent approved from the date you filed your design patent application. This time-frame takes into account the average time that it takes a design patent applicant to reply to any inquiries from the patent office.

Also, the USPTO states that it takes 13.8 months for the First Office Action to be mailed to you. A First Office Action is sent to applicants for patents once the patent examiner examines your design patent application.

Can You Patent a Concept?

The short answer is no, you cannot patent a concept or a mere idea. The patent office will not allow you to protect an idea or concept with any form of intellectual property protection. That said, an idea are still valuable as an essential first step towards inventing something, but mere idea or concept cannot on it's own be patented. To get a patent, there has to be some physical manifestation of the idea for you to be able to patent it.

Reasons to Get a Design Patent

If you have a design that's new and unique, here are some reasons why you should get a design patent:

  • Design patents are quite easy to get, assuming you've properly prepared and file your design patent application
  • They are less expensive to get than utility patents
  • They are great to have, especially if you have a utility patent protecting the functional aspect of your invention, adding design patent protection gives you complete intellectual property protection of your invention.

Reasons to Not Get a Design Patent

You should not get a design patent If any of the following situations apply to you:

  • Some else is already using the design you want to patent
  • Someone else has already patented the design you want to patent
  • You are not the person who invented (created) the design
  • The design you're seeking to patent is not new and unique

What is an Example of a Design Patent?

Here is an example of a design patent that protects an old fashioned jewelry box that was filed on September 26, 2006 with the USPTO:

Are Design Patents Worth It?

Design patents are worth it if you have a design that's worth protecting. Designs are worth protecting if they are commercially viable, meaning you can commercialize them and profit from them by selling the object with patented design or licensing its use to others.

If you have a design that you've patented, you will be able to use, sell, and license the design for 15 years from the date your design patented is granted. After the 15 year period, the design will become part of the public domain and anyone will be able to use the design without the patent holder's express permission.

What's the Difference Between a Utility Patent and a Design Patent?

Utility patents are used to protect inventions, machines, processes, and software, whereas design patents are used to protect aesthetics and ornamental appearance of an object.

Deadline to Patent a Design

The USPTO does not impose a deadline to file a design patent application. However, if you have a new and unique design that's worth protecting, you should file a design patent application as soon as you can to avoid someone else patenting the same design.

Also, the patent office currently needs 20.5 months to approve design patent applications, so the sooner you apply for a design patent, the sooner you'll be able to enforce your rights under the patent.

What is the Cheapest Way to Get a Design Patent?

The cheapest way to get a design patent is to file the patent application by yourself. If you're comfortable enough with patent law to draft and file your design patent application, you're free to do so as the patent office does not require you to have an attorney.

That said, mistakes can be costly, especially if you've taken a significant step towards patenting your design and the USPTO rejects your application, you'll have to hire an attorney to go through everything you've already done and then make changes to the filed application.

Hiring an attorney to prepare and file your design patent application may seem costly at the beginning, costing between $2,500 and $3,500, but it may save you money on the long run. Patent attorneys are trained and have experience filing design patents, making them less likely to make mistakes that an average person may make while preparing the application.

Tips to Get a Design Patent

The most important part of getting a design patent is properly drafting and preparing your design patent application. To get a design patent, you will need to show that the design you're seeking to protect qualifies for design patent protection.

Many times, sneaky inventors trying to obtain design patents on the actual invention itself and not the design, this is not allowed at the USPTO. Design patents were created to protect things like the appearance, aesthetics, or ornamental aspects of an object and not the function itself.

To get a patent, you'll have to complete the design patent application data sheet, which requires you to list basic information about your design, including a description of the design and what your design was created for. Also, make sure to follow the formatting guidelines set forth by the USPTO when preparing your patent application, even seemingly minor mistakes can get your application rejected, costing you time and money you may not have.

Do you Need Drawings to Patent a Design?

The short answer is: yes, you need to include drawings to patent a design. The USPTO requires that you include the following drawings of your design:

  • Front
  • Back
  • Right Side
  • Left Side
  • Top
  • Bottom
  • Perspective (while not required, it's important)

The patent office states that the drawings should be illustrated in black and white line drawings. Drawings must have proper surface shading and they must use broken lines where appropriate to indicate that the subject matter is not a part of the design a designer is claiming in their patent application.

If you're like us and you can't draw the required figures, you can hire a professional patent drawer to draw them for you. We've seen such artists charge $50 to $100 per drawing, so expect to spend $600 for these drawings.

How Many Designs Can You Patent?

You can patent as many design as you wish, however and this a big however, you can only patent one design per design patent application, meaning you cannot claim more than one design in your application. If you have other designs that you want to protect, you can do so by filing a separate patent application for them.

Claiming more than one design in your patent application can delay the design patent grant. Design patent applications have a high allowance rate of 84%, meaning that 84% of all patent applications are approved.

This suggests that there is a strong probability that a design patent application claiming a single embodiment design will proceeding from filing to allowance without the applicant ever having to receive an patent office action.

How Many Design Patents Can the Same Person Apply For?

Patent law does not limit the number of design patents that an applicant can apply for or have. Therefore, an individual can file for and have as many design patents as they wish. However, if you have different designs that you want to protect, just remember that you'll need to file a separate patent application for each unique design.

Design Patent Publication

Unlike utility patent applications which must all be published and made publicly available within 18 months after an inventor files their utility patent application, design patent applications are keep secret at the USPTO until the patent office issues the design patent. Once the patent office issues the design patent, the design patent application is made publicly available. Some believe that keeping design patent applications secret creates a problem for those who want to patent designs that are similar to the one that's secretly pending at the USPTO.

How Long Does a Patent on a Design Last?

According to the USPTO, design patents in the U.S last for 15 years from the date the patent office grants an inventors design patent. Design patent term is different from utility patents, which last for 20 years from the date an inventor files his utility patent application. The design patent term was recently extended from 14 years to 15 years from the date a design patent application is granted.

What Should you Do if the USPTO Rejects Your Patent Application?

If the USPTO rejects your design patent application, you or your attorney should request that the USPTO reconsider your patent application. You can argue that they came to the wrong conclusion and that they should grant your application.

Many times, the patent examiner will ask you to reply to the rejection of your application because your design is patentable, but you need to make a few changes to the application. If for some reason you disagree with the patent examiner, you can reply to them but make sure that you are specific in your answer and/or argument.

Also, make sure that you pay attention to the dates in the letter and that you reply within the allotted time-frame. Missing deadlines can cost you both time and money. Additionally, if you have an attorney helping you out with your application, he may charge you for communicating with the patent office on your behalf.

That said, when you mail any documents to the patent office, make sure that you use certified mail so that you have delivery confirmation and proof of mailing. Delivery confirmation can be a life saver if you sent something to the patent office and for some reason it gets lost or misplaced, you will have proof that you replied.

Can you Patent a Design Worldwide?

Up until now, we have covered everything on how to patent a design in the United States, so if you have a design and you're from the U.S, can you patent your design abroad? The short answer is yes, and it's easier than ever today.

Today, if you want to patent your design worldwide, you can do so by submitting a single application to the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). Previously, if you wanted to protect your patent overseas, you had to file a patent in every country that you wanted to protect your invention.

Thanks to WIPO, you only need to submit one patent application and if approved, your patent will be protected worldwide. To obtain a worldwide patent on your design, you pay a single fee and you need to file the application in one language, if approved, your patent will be worldwide.

It's a fairly long process to fill out the application, but the WIPO website will walk you through it step-by-step. If approved, you'll get worldwide protection. This worldwide process is not only available for design patents, but also includes trademarks and inventions.

How to Patent a Design Concluded

This article thoroughly discussed all of the steps that you will need to take to patent your design. We also broke down the fees that you will need to pay to file your application, attorneys' fees, and additional fees that you will have to pay after filing your design patent application. Basically, we tried to cover everything involved in how to get a patent. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


what does a patent lawyer do? answered

What Does a Patent Lawyer Do?

Protecting your intellectual property (IP) in today's day and age is more important than ever, making finding a decent patent lawyer the best thing you can do to protect your invention, process, or design. Patent law is a specialized area of intellectual property law, finding an attorney that is competent in the field of your inventions can do wonders for the type of IP protection you're looking for.

What Do Patent Lawyers Do?

So, you're probably wondering by now, what does a patent lawyer do? Patent lawyers help inventors and applicants research their invention and guide them throughout the patent application process. A good patent lawyer will get inventors the best patent protection possible over their invention. It takes attorneys years to learn how to properly draft patent applications. Going to law school and passing the patent bar exam does not guarantee that an attorney will be able to write a patent application.

Learning how to properly draft a patent application takes years of experience. Lawyers typically learn how to draft them by assisting experienced attorneys drafting such applications.

Patent attorneys usually work in the field of intellectual property law with a focus on patent law. In the United States, to become a patent lawyer, an individual must attend and complete law school, they must take the general bar exam in their respective state, and they must also pass the patent bar exam.

If you have a business that has valuable intellectual property, you should hire an experienced patent lawyer who has some experience in patenting inventions that are within the field of your invention.

Most attorneys do not know about patent law. When you're looking for a patent attorney, make sure that they have passed the USPTO Patent Examination and have a background in science and technology.

So, what does the typical day for a patent attorney look like? Patent attorneys oversee patent litigation, work on composing and prosecuting patent applications, and taking on patent infringement cases.

Because of these many responsibilities, patent lawyers should have a decent knowledge base of technology and patent law to competently advise and represent their clients in patent and patent related matters.

Patent lawyers have to be able to have enough experience to advise their clients and give them feedback on their inventions. Patent attorneys are lucky in that they are able to see what the future holds in terms of new technology.

How to Become a Patent Lawyer?

To become a patent lawyer, and individual must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Bachelor's Degree. If a person wants to become a patent lawyer, he must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited four-year institution in one of the following fields:
    • Science
      • Biology
      • Chemistry
      • Physics
    • Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Mechanical Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering
      • Biomedical Engineering
  • Law School. To become an attorney, an individual must have completed law school from an accredited university in the United States.
  • Bar Exam. An individual must also pass the bar exam in their state
  • Patent Bar Exam. For an attorney to become a patent attorney, he must pass the USPTO Licensing Exam, which is commonly known as the Patent Bar Exam.

Patent law is always changing to accommodate the new technology that's being introduced, for patent attorneys to remain sharp, they need to keep up with any new patent laws and changes.

How Much do Patent Lawyers Make?

According to Payscale.com, the average patent attorney makes $138,618 per year. Salaries range from a low of $82,000 to a high of $204,000. Entry level patent attorneys should expect to make $96,340 during the first couple of years of their career.

A patent attorney's salary depends on the attorney's experience, geographical location, and field of experience. Experienced patent attorneys can expect to make $160,795 and patent attorneys late in their career make $178,981.

Role of a Patent Lawyer

The role of a patent lawyer is to help inventors patent their invention, machines, process, or design. Patent attorneys typically help inventors prepare, file, and prosecute their patent application. Once a patent has been issued or granted by the patent office, patent attorneys help clients enforce their patents by suing parties that infringe upon them.

Inventors patent their inventions because a patent allows them restrict others from using, making, and selling their invention for a limited period of time. Usually 20 years for utility patents, 15 years for design patents, and 20 years of plant patents.

How to Find a Good Patent Lawyer?

Before searching for an attorney, you need to know what type of attorney you need. To protect a patent, you will need to find a patent attorney that specializes in the field of your invention. For example, if you have developed a medication that you want patent, you will have to find a patent attorney that specializes in patenting pharmaceuticals.

Here are some options for finding a good patent attorney:

  • Attorney Sites

    To find a good patent lawyer, you can search sites, such as Legal Zoom, Avvo, Nolo, and Best Lawyers. They have hundreds of attorneys who can assist you with patenting and patenting related manners. Patent attorneys can help you complete, file, and prosecute your patent application. They can also represent you in a courtroom on any related or unrelated matter.
  • Ask Family, Friends, and Co-workers

    Asking your friends, family, and co-workers can be a great way to find a decent patent attorney. Personal References can often help you find a good attorney.
  • Ask a Lawyer you Know

    You may be able to find a patent attorney by asking a lawyer you already know. Even though they may not be a patent attorney, they may be able to recommend a good patent attorney. Attorneys know other attorneys, so don't hesitate to as a lawyer you know to recommend a patent lawyer.
  • State Bar Attorney Directory

    You can contact your State Bar Association and ask them to help you find an attorney. Most, if not all State Bar Associations have a directory of attorneys you can choose from. Some Associations may charge you a fee to help you find an attorney.

Although finding the right attorney may take you a lot of time in the beginning, remember that if you're trying to patent your invention, you'll have to deal with the same attorney for at least a year or two, even more if the patent office grants your patent.

Tasks a Patent Lawyer Performs

Here is a list of tasks that a patent lawyer is expected to perform:

  • Preparing patent applications for clients and inventors
  • Paying patent office fees, including application fees, patent search fees, and patent maintenance fees
  • Prosecuting patent applications on behalf of their clients
  • Bringing lawsuits against those who infringe upon their client's intellectual property
  • Deals with the transfer of intellectual property rights
  • Deals with licensing their client's intellectual property
  • They advise clients on how to protect their intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, and copyrights

Do you Need a Lawyer to Get a Patent?

Inventors and applicants are not required to hire a lawyer to get a patent. In fact, the U.S Patent Office is required to help inventors and applicants patent their own invention. That said, hiring a patent lawyer is highly recommended to avoid making costly mistakes on the patent application.

While preparing and filing a patent application without an attorney is allowed, it's not recommended because the patenting process is quite complex and requires a trained individual's help. A good patent attorney will be able to get you the best possible patent protection for your invention by accurately describing your invention and how it's different from existing inventions in the field of your invention.

If you want a professional to help you preparing and filing your patent and cannot afford a patent lawyer, you can look for a registered patent agent. Patent agents are qualified to prepare and file patent applications, but they cannot represent you in a court room. They will however be very valuable in preparing and prosecuting your patent application.

Like lawyers, patent agents can prepare, file, and communicate with the patent office on your behalf, however if you need something like a confidentiality agreement drafted, they will not be able to help you with that.

In the event that you do not have the funds to hire a patent agent or patent attorney, you can file a provisional patent application with the USPTO. A provisional patent application will give you some protection while you find investors who are interested in backing your invention.

Interview with a Patent Lawyer

If you've found a patent lawyer and you have an invention that is worth protecting, you might be wondering what should you have prepared for the initial interview? For the initial interview be prepare for the following:

  • Describe your invention with as much detail as possible to your patent attorney. Share a copy of any notes you took while working on your invention with your lawyer.
  • Bring your invention or photos of your invention with you, this will assist the patent lawyer in understanding your invention and how it works, the better your attorney knows your invention, the better he can protect your invention
  • Create an outline of all of the documents that you want to share with your attorney so your lawyer will have an easier time getting through the information
  • Ask your attorney if he has any expertise handling patents that are within the same field as your invention. Attorneys that have worked on inventions that are similar to yours will be better able to understand and protect your invention

Job Duties of a Patent Lawyer

The job duties of a patent lawyer are to assist inventors and applicants in obtaining patents from the USPTO. Patent lawyers represent individuals who are seeking to obtain a patent to protect their invention. Patent lawyers' day to day includes writing patent applications, prosecuting them, and counseling those seeking patents.

Patent attorneys often handle patent infringement cases, either representing patent holders who want to protect their intellectual property or a party accused of infringing upon another's patent.

Are Patent Lawyers in Demand?

According to the New York Times, patent lawyers are in high demand, with more than 15% of law firm job offerings looking for patent attorney while representing only 3% of lawyers in the United States.

There is a growing demand for patent attorneys, law firms are even "doubling recruitment fees to meet the growing demand for intellectual property attorneys." So, if you're a lawyer thinking about taking the patent bar exam, it's a great time to become a patent lawyer.

Patent Lawyer Conclusion

This article explained what patent lawyers do, how much money they make, and the duties they have. We also covered how an individual can become a patent attorney, as well as the tasks that patent attorneys perform. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


What is patent law?

What is Patent Law?

What is Patent Law?

Patent Law is a branch of intellectual property law that deals with protecting new inventions, processes, and designs. Regular patents, also known as utility patents, protect physical inventions, such as microchips, zippers, computers, and car engines. However, as technology advanced, people wanted to protect more inventions that did not fall within the traditionally protected categories. Such inventions include: software, business practices, and algorithms.

What is a Patent?

Patent law governs patents, which are a form of intellectual property rights that give inventors the exclusive right to make, use, sell, import their invention for a limited period of time, usually 20 years for utility patents and 15 years for design patents.

A patent is an intellectual property right that's granted to an inventor by the Federal Government. Patents permit inventors to exclude others from using, making, or selling their invention for a limited period of time.

The patent system was established to encourage inventors to make inventions that are unique and improve the society we all live in. The source of power for Congress to grant patents comes from the U.S Constitution and Federal Laws that govern patents.

This article will explain the basics of patent law, as well as the requirements that an invention must meet before qualifying for a patent. We will also go over some of the most often used terms in patent law.

Types of Patents Under U.S Patent Law

The USPTO currently offers several types of patents that inventors and applicants can apply for:

  • Utility Patents: Utility patents are the most sought after patents. They make up more than 90% of all applied for patents. Utility patents are used to protect the functional aspects of an invention.
  • Design Patents: Design patents are used to protect the appearance of an item, such as the appearance of a beverage bottle.
  • Software Patent: Software patents are used by inventors to protect the functional aspects of their software. Software patents are different than software copyrights, which protect the unique code itself.
  • Plant Patents: Plant patents are used to protect new species of asexually reproduced plants, such as new species of fruits, vegetables, and flowers.

Eligibility For a Patent Under U.S Patent Law

If an individual have an invention they want to patent, they have to satisfy the requirements set forth by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

To patent an invention, an inventor must show that:

  • Invention has patentable subject matter,

    Patentable subject matter means that the applicant's invention must fall within one of the categories of patentable subject matter. Patentable subject matter categories include: (1) machines, (2) processes, (3) devices, and (4) a thing that can be manufactured.
  • Invention is useful or serves some purpose,

    This means that the invention must have a useful purpose. This requirement is typically easily met and inventions are rarely challenged on the grounds that they are not useful.
  • Invention is novel (new), and

    To be patentable, the patent office requires invention to be new or novel. This means that the invention to be patented must have not been publicly disclosed by the inventor or applicant.
  • Invention is nonobvious (not obvious) at the time that patent was filed for

    To patent an invention, the invention must have not been obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the field that relates to the invention. The nonobviousness requirement is the most difficult determination that a patent examiner has to make.

Inventors that have had their patent approved and granted by the USPTO can exclusively use and sell their invention as they see fit. Some inventors choose to license their intellectual property to others in exchange for a small fee.

Examples of Items that Can Be Patented

Here are a few examples of things that can be patented under current patent law:

  • Microchips and Computer Hardware
  • Computer Software
  • Pharmaceutical Drugs
  • New Plant Species
  • Jewelry
  • Musical Instruments
  • Medical Instruments

Patent Application Procedure

Applicants and inventors file their patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The application process is quite slow, taking approximately 24 months for inventors to get their patent application approved.

The patenting process is both time consuming and expensive. Our estimates show that inventions cost between $5,000 and $15,000+, depending on the complexity of the invention being patented. The majority of the cost goes to paying lawyer fees to prepare and file your application.

If you're individual and you feel comfortable preparing and filing your own application, expect to pay $900 in filing and patent office fees. That said, preparing a patent application is quite complex and making a single mistake could get your application rejected by the USPTO.

Why Are Patents and Patent Law Important?

Patents are important to both inventors and society. Patents are important because they protect the intellectual property rights of inventors for a limited period of time. During this time, inventors will be able to profit from their invention, especially if the invention solves a problem that no one else is able to solve. If inventors did not have patent law to protect their rights and allow them to profit, they would not have the incentive to invent something new.

That said, patents are important for more reasons, here are some of them:

  • Exclusive Rights. As we just mentioned, patent law provides inventors with the right to exclude others from making, using, and selling their invention for a limited period of time.
  • Profit. Many inventors spend a significant amount of their time and money to invent something new. Patent law awards them by giving them a limited period of time to control the market that relates to their invention, allowing them to make high returns on the investment they made in their invention.
  • Sell/License. Patent law permits patent holders to sell or license their patent invention to third parties. Inventors often do not have the resources to bring their product to market, so they license it to third parties that have the ability to manufacture and sell the product.
  • Innovator. People often see inventors who have patented multiple inventions as innovators because they have created something that is worth the protection of U.S Patent Law.
  • Enforce Your Rights. Patent law affords patent holders the right to sue anyone who makes, uses, sell, or imports their invention to the United States without their express permission. That said, a patent holder must keep an eye out for infringers and sue them himself. The patent office will not look for infringers and prosecute them.

Patent Law As Part of Intellectual Property Law

Patent laws falls under the umbrella of U.S Intellectual Property Law. In the United States, intellectual property includes the following:

  • Patent Law. Protects inventions, processes, designs, software, and new plant species.
  • Trademark Law. Protects registered word(s), symbols, names, or graphics that identify a person or a business as the source of goods or services.
  • Copyright Law. Covers written and artistic works, such as novels, software code, movies, photographs, and songs.
  • Trade Secret Law. Trade secret laws protect methods, formulas, or devices that companies use to give them a competitive edge.
  • Licensing Law. Licensing law gives the holder of a license the right to use a piece of intellectual property. This area of IP overlaps with many other types of IP.

Patent Law Terms you Should Know

  • Patent Application. A regular patent application is known as a nonprovisional patent application. This is the document that applicants complete and file with the USPTO to patent their invention.
  • Patent Agent. A patent agent is a person that has passed the Patent Bar Exam, but is not a patent attorney. Patent agents are authorized to act on behalf of their clients in matters that involve the patenting process.
  • Patent Claim. A patent claim is the part of the invention that an inventor wants to protect.
  • Patent Infringement. Infringement occurs when an individual makes an authorized use of another's invention. This includes making, using, selling, or importing an invention that is patented in the U.S.
  • Patent Prosecution. This is the process of applying for and receiving a patent. Prosecution includes interacting with the patent examiner to get the best possible protection for an inventor's invention.

Patent Law Attorney

Patent Law Attorneys, commonly known as Patent attorney, represent clients in all types of intellectual property cases. They have passed the Bar Exam in their respective state and they have passed the United States Patent Bar Exam.

Some patent attorneys work for the USPTO, reviewing patent application and others work in law firms representing clients in intellectual property matters. Also, many patent attorneys work as in-house attorneys for large companies, such as Microsoft and Google.

Attorney who practice patent law are necessary for companies that have valuable intellectual property they want to protect. Without patent attorneys, their intellectual goods will be worthless as they will be copied and sold without the owner's permission.

What Rights Does Patent Law Grant the Inventor?

Patent law grants inventors and patent holders two main rights:

  • Exclusivity. Patent law grants inventors who have patented their invention the right to stop others from using, making, selling, or importing their invention in the United States without the express consent of the patent holder. Patent law allows inventors to license their patents to third parties.
  • Enforcement. Patent law allows patent holders to enforce their rights by suing others who use, make, or sell their invention without their express consent. Inventors cannot sue anyone while their patent is pending, they must wait until the USPTO grants their patent to be able to enforce their rights under it. The court may grant you an injunction or court order, ordering the infringer to stop his infringing activities and you may be awarded monetary damages.

Patent Law Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a Patent Application?

    A patent application is an application that inventors file with the USPTO requesting that the patent office grant them a patent on their invention. When people refer to a patent application, they are typically referring to a utility patent application, but just know that there are design patent applications and plant patent applications.
  • Is Your Invention Valuable?

    Before placing a value on your invention, you should identify or describe your invention. your invention must be based on an idea that was not previously known to the public. Your product may contain many new and valuable inventions, but the product itself might not be commercially successful and therefore, patenting it will cost you a lot of time and money for no reason.
  • How Much Does a Patent Application Cost?

    Filing the patent application costs $75 to $300, depending on your qualifications or the size of the business filing the patent application. Lawyers fees are what cost the most went patenting an invention. Lawyer fees for a simple utility can cost between $5,000 and $15,000+. This all depends on how complex your invention is and the amount of work that needs to be done.
  • When Should an Inventor File a Patent Application?

    An inventor must file his application as soon as the invention is ready. The United States has a first to file rule, which gives priority to the first person to file his patent application with the patent office. If you're still working on your invention, you can file a provisional patent application to hold your priority date while your work out the the kinks from your invention.

Patent Law Conclusion

We hope that this article helped explain what patent law is, as well as what types of patents are available to you. We also touched on how much patents can cost, as well as the importance of patents ones invention. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


What is a patent agent?

What is a Patent Agent?

If you're an inventor who has just finished working on his invention, you might be wondering whether to choose a patent attorney or a patent agent to assist you with patenting your invention or process. So, what is a a patent agent? This article will explain what a patent agent is, as well as how patent agents are different from patent attorneys.

Many wonder whether there is a difference between a patent agent and a patent attorney? Knowing the difference between the two will help you choose the kind of professional that you need to protect your intellectual property (IP). Choosing the wrong professional can end up costing you time and money.

What is a Patent Agent?

A patent agent, often referred to as a patent practitioner is licensed to provide applicants assistance with the patent application process to get a patent for their invention. Patent agents are approved by the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office), to act as an intermediary between the applicant/inventor and the patent office.

Patent agents can assist individual inventors, businesses, the federal government, private citizens, corporations, and pharmaceutical companies. To become a patent agent, an individual must have a degree in engineering or physical science and he must pass the same Patent Bar Exam that lawyers must pass to practice patent law and be registered with the USPTO. Source

Patent agents help inventors and applicants determine the type of appropriate intellectual property protection. They are able to perform patent searches for similar inventions that can prevent inventors from successfully pursuing utility, design, or plant patents.

Patent agents also act as an intermediary between the applicant and the USPTO, assisting in the completion of the patent application and resolving any issues that arise between the patent office and the applicant.

Here are some of the things that patent agents typically help inventors and applicants with:

  • Learning about the invention
  • Conducting patent searches for similar inventions
  • Discussing any similar inventions with the patent applicant
  • Completing patent applications
  • Communicating with the USPTO on behalf of the applicant
  • Answering questions from the patent office
  • Responding to rejected applications

What Does a Patent Agent Do?

Patent agents assist inventors and applicants in patenting their inventions, processes, and designs. Typically, inventors want to protect their intellectual property rights by obtaining a patent from the USPTO. If an inventors is successful in obtaining a patent, the inventor will be able to make and sell his invention while restricting others from using, making, selling, or importing his invention to the United States.

Once an inventors has patented his invention with the help of a patent agent, he will be able to grants others permission to use his invention. Inventors typically allows the use of their patented invention or process in exchange for a fee.

Although inventors and applicants may choose to complete and file their patent application without the help of a patent agent or patent attorney, many find the application process to be complex and will therefore hire an experienced patent agent to help them and represent them throughout the process.

Patent Agent vs Patent Attorney

By now you might be wondering what is the difference between a patent attorney and a patent agent? The difference between a patent attorney and a patent agent is that patent attorneys are licensed lawyers who can practice general law and give their clients advice relating to any legal matter, while patent agents have only passed the Patent Bar Exam and are only allowed to handle patent matters with the USPTO. Some attorneys are both lawyers and patent agents because they have also passed the Patent Bar Exam.

Both patent agents and patent attorney are authorized and competent to draft, fill out, and file patent applications with the USPTO. However, when it comes to drafting contracts and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), only attorneys can perform these functions. Also, patent agents are not permitted to advise inventors and applicants when it comes to proceedings that take place in a courtroom.

Key Differences Between Patent Agents and Patent Attorneys

This table will illustrate and summarize the key differences between patent agents and patent attorneys. This is not an exhaustive list, but it does list some differences that might be of interest to you.


Patent Attorney vs. Patent Agent

Inquiry
Patent Agent
Patent Attorney
Who can file a patent with the USPTO?
Yes, any patent agent who has passed the Patent Bar Exam is authorized to complete and file your patent application with the USPTO
Yes, any attorney who has passed the Patent Bar Exam can complete and file your patent application with the USPTO
Give Advise on Patentability and Prior Art?
Patent agents have not attended law school, but they are licensed by the patent office and are therefore able to advise you on the patentability of your invention. Also, they are allowed to assist you with the preparation and filing of your patent, as well as communicating on your behalf with the patent office.
Patent Attorney, unlike patent agents have attended law school and have passed the bar exam of their state. A patent attorney can give you advise as it pertain to the patentability of your invention, as well as, the legal ramifications of patenting it. Also, they can advise you on legal matters that are not related to patenting your invention.
Does attorney /client privilege exist?
Patent agents are required to keep information related to their client's patent confidential. However, this does not apply to any other legal matters their client is involved in
Patent attorneys are legally obligated to keep all communications between them and their client private, to the extent required by the law.
Do they have legal training?
Patent agents only have a degree in science or engineering, some of them have not completed law school. So, while they are permitted to assist you in patent related matters, they are not able to provide general legal advice.
All patent attorneys have attended law school and have been granted their JD degree. Also, after completing law school, they have passed the bar exam of their state
Can they provide legal advice?
Patent agents are not lawyers and therefore they are not permitted to offer any legal advice. They cannot give you advise you to sue anyone for patent infringement.
Patent attorneys have a legal education, usually from an ABA accredited law school. As such, they can advise you on patenting your invention, as well as other legal matters regardless of whether they're related to your invention.
Cost?
If you're looking for a patent attorney you will notice that the cost varies from one attorney to another, however patent attorneys typically charge more than patent agents because they have more legal training than them. $$$$
Patent Agents are typically cheaper to hire than patent attorneys, but remember that they do not have the legal training that attorneys have, so the scope of the service they render is less. For the average person, a decent patent agent should offer plenty of help.

Now you might be wondering whether the differences between the two justify paying more money to a patent attorney. Now that you know how the two are different, you can make an educated choice as to whether you want the assistance of a patent attorney or a patent agent. Choosing the correct professional will save you time and money in both the short and long term.

When looking for a patent agent or patent attorney, look for someone who has sufficient experience in the field of your invention, his education, and post-graduate work. Often time applicants look for patent agents who offer lower rates and if they end up choosing an agent with little experience, this may end up costing them time and money in both the short and long term. Finding an experienced patent agent is the key to success.

Where Do Patent Agents Work?

Patent agents are registered with the USPTO and therefore, patent agents are able to work with inventors, businesses, governmental agencies to represent them before the United States Patent Office. Many patent agents choose to work with the USPTO as patent examiners. So, when it comes to the technical and legal aspects of patents, patent agents are more than qualified to handle such matters.

Only patent attorneys and patent agents are able to directly work with and represent clients before the patent office. The biggest barrier to working with the patent office is passing the Patent Bar Exam, once an individual passes the bar exam and registers with the Patent Office, they have overcome the significant barriers to entry.

According to data from the USPTO, there were more than 44,295 registered patent practitioners as of April, 2016. From the 44,295 registered practitioners, approximately 30,000 of them are patent attorneys, the remaining 14,000+ are patent agents.

How Much Do Patent Agents Make?

According to statistics from Glassdoor, the average patent agent makes between $95,059 and $121,663 per year. On the low-end, patent agents make $89,000 and on the high-end, patent agents make $156,000. A patent agents salary depends on the agent's experience and the geographical location in which he works.

Is it Hard to Become a Patent Agent?

The difficulty of becoming a patent agent depends on the person applying to become an agent. Patent agents are required to have a degree in either engineering or science. Patent agents must then study patent law, rules, and understand the working of the patent office. To become a patent agent, an individual must also pass the Patent Bar Exam, making becoming a patent agent a somewhat difficult yet achievable task.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Patent Agent?

How long it takes to become a patent agent depends on whether you already have a degree in science or engineering. If you already have a science or engineering degree, you can become a patent agent in as little as 6 months, depending on how long it takes you to prepare and pass the Patent Bar Exam.

If you do not have a science or engineering background, you will have to factor in the time it takes you to obtain such a degree.

Patent Agent Job Description

Patent agents are as the name implies agents for inventors, representing them in matters related to the USPTO. Patent agents use their science or engineering backgrounds to help individuals and companies protect their intellectual property (IP). They help inventors navigate the ever-changing terrain of patent law.

Patent agents typically collaborate with attorneys, experts, and other professionals to complete and prosecute patent applications based on their skill set and the needs of their clients.

Patent agents act as intermediaries between their clients and the patent office. Clients often hire patent agents to complete and file their patent applications. They also handle any communications or questions that applicants receive from the patent office.

That said, before a patent agent can offer his services to applicants and clients, he must either hold a degree in engineering or science. After obtaining his degree, a potential agent must submit an application to the USPTO, he must take and pass the Patent Bar Exam, and then he must complete the registration process with the USPTO. Source

Once a patent agents begins to represent a client who has an invention that he wants to patent, the agent will begin performing research to determine whether his client's invention is patentable. As part of the patentability determine, the agent will look for similar inventions and if any appear, the agent typically discusses it with the client to see if the inventions are different.

Once the patent agent completes the search, he will prepare the patent application and file it with the USPTO. If the patent examiner has any questions or issues with the application, he can communicate with the patent agent to resolve the issue.

Patent Agent

We hope that this article helped you understand what a patent agent is and the type of work that they do. We also covered the average salary for a patent agents, as well as the qualifications that an individual must have to become a patent agent. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


Difference between patent and copyright

Patent vs Copyright

Patents and copyrights are both different types of intellectual property (IP). Please often use the words incorrectly, knowing the difference between the two is important if you're looking to protect your IP. After reading through this article, you will better understand the difference between a patent and copyright. You will also start noticing just how often people use these two terms incorrectly.

Typically, when people think about property, they think of personal property, such as their smart phone, jewelry, or real property, such as their home. They totally forget about intellectual property, which is an intangible form of property. We will now begin discussing the difference between patent vs copyright.

Intellectual property law was created to encourage people to create intellectual products and goods by offering them protection from theft and unauthorized use. Intellectual property rights are often granted for a limited period of time (we will cover this below).

Many individuals and businesses want to protect their intellectual property but don't know what protection to apply for. This article will help you device whether you need patent protection or copyright protection.

Difference Between Patent and Copyright

Patent vs Copyright, how are they different? A patent protects an inventor's invention, product, or machines; whereas copyright protects an artistic piece of work, such as a book, play, movie, song, photograph, or computer software code. Both Patents and copyrights protect intellectual property from being exploited without the owner's permission.

Patent

The USPTO, which is the agency responsible for issuing patents, mainly offers two types of main patents. These are Utility Patents, which protect how an invention works and how it's used. Design patents protect aesthetics and ornamental design of a functional item.

According to the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office), patents grant inventors the right to restrict others from using, making, selling, or importing their inventions. Note that an applicant's invention is only protected in the United States, if an inventor wants protection abroad, he must obtain a patent in every country he wants his invention protected.

Intellectual property goods that can be protected by a patent:

  • Product
  • Process
  • Machine
  • Invention
  • Software
  • Pharmaceuticals

Patent owners enjoy the right to use, make, sell, license, and enable others to use their invention. The great thing about patents is the right to prevent others from using, selling, and importing your invention without your permission.

Copyright

Copyrights grant the creator of an original piece of creative work the exclusive right to determine who can copy and use his literary, musical, and other artistic work regardless of whether the author publicly published his work. Authors do not need to register their work with the U.S Copyright Office for protection to apply, but registering your artistic or literary work with them enhances the protection afforded by copyright law.

Intellectual property goods that can be protected by a copyright:

  • Books
  • Poetry
  • Music
  • Songs
  • Movies
  • Architecture
  • Computer Software

Registering your work with the copyright office places others on notice that that you own the copyrighted work. Also, copyrights establish evidence of your ownership over your work.

As a copyright owner, you enjoy the right to reproduce, copy, distribute, and broadcast your work to the public.

Length of Patent Protection vs Copyright

  • Utility Patents. Utility patents protect inventions for 20 years from the filing date of the patent application. For utility patents, the patent holder must pay periodic maintenance fees to keep the patent from expiring.
  • Design Patents. Design patents protect designs for 15 years from the date the design patent is granted. Unlike utility patents, you do not have to pay maintenance fees to keep the design patent from expiring.
  • Copyright. Copyright protection for works created by an individual lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years after his death. For an anonymous work or work made for hire, the copyright lasts for a term of 95 years from the year the work is first published or for 120 years from the date of its creates, whichever expires first.

Copyright Protection vs Patent Protection

While all artistic works are automatically protected under copyright law the moment you create them, to file a lawsuit against anyone who violates your copyright, you will have to register your copyright with the U.S Copyright office before filing a lawsuit.

The protection offered under patent law is much different. To protect your invention you must file a patent application with the USPTO and the patent office has to grant your patent. Unlike copyright law where your work is protected the moment you create it, you're only protected under patent law if the patent office grants your patent.

Once the USPTO issues or grants your patent, you will be able to enforce your rights under patent law by suing others who make, use, offer to sell, or import your invention to the United States.

Copyright protection is often easier to attain since all you have to do is create your work and affix it to a medium that will allow people to view or perceive it with the aid of a machine or device (publishing your work online satisfies this requirement).

Registering your work with the U.S Copyright office is voluntary and copyright exists the moment you create your work. To sue someone for copyright infringement, you will have to register your work with the copyright office.

Why Are Patents and Copyrights Important?

Protecting your intellectual property rights by patenting your invention and registering your copyright allows you to take action against any person or business that infringes upon your property.

Without copyright law and patent law, people can steal your invention or artistic work and sell them as their own, leaving you without any recourse against such thieves. That's why it's important to register your work and patent your invention the second you create something new.

Patenting Your Invention

To patent your idea or invention, you have to make sure that your invention meets the requirements for patentability and you have to file a patent application with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). Utility patents are the most common type of patent applied for at the USPTO, making up more than 90% of all applied for patents. They are used to protect products, processes, and machines.

You can also obtain a design patent to protect the unique design or look of your product. To get a design patent, you have to show that the appearance of your product is new and unique. Once you patent a design, you will be able to restrict others from using, making, and selling the article or product you've designed.

The USPTO offers a third type of patent, known as a plant patent. Plants patents are the least type of patent applied for, making less than 1% of all applied for patents. Plant patents are granted to inventors who discover or create new, asexually reproduced plant species.

The patent office not only allows you to protect the product you've created, but also the process that was used to create the product. Protecting the process for creating an invention is extremely important, especially for business that spend tremendous amounts of time and money perfecting and optimizing their process.

Filing a patent to protect your intellectual property can be a difficult process. If you have the money, we always recommend that you hire an experienced patent attorney to prepare and file your patent application. While it's not unheard of to find someone who has patented his invention on his own, making minor mistakes could cost you a lot of money.

Registering Your Copyright

Anyone can register their copyright through the U.S Electronic Copyright Office eCo registration portal. eCo allows creators to register basic claims for literary works, artwork, movies, pictures, and songs.

eCo is a great and cost effective way for creators to register their artwork, here are some of the benefits of using the U.S Electronic Copyright Office (eCo):

  • $35 registration fee for a single author registering a single piece of work that was not made for hire
  • Fastest way to register your work
  • Offers ability to track the status of your registration online
  • Ability to pay fees via credit or debit card online

Registering your work is important to protect your ability to collect profits from your artistic creation. Even though copyright protection is automatic, if find that someone is infringing upon your intellectual property (IP), you will not be able to file a federal lawsuits to stop those who infringe upon your work.

As we've mentioned previously the U.S Copyright Office has made it fairly easy to register your artwork via eCo. All you need to do is fill out some basic information with the copyright office within three months of creating your literary or artistic work. Once you register your work, you are protected and will be able to hold others accountable for copying or passing off your work as their own.

While many people don't know the specifics of copyright protection, they are familiar with the fact that the "©" symbol means that the work is protected by copyright law.

What Are Some Examples of Patents and Copyrights?

Maybe showing you a few examples of patents and copyrights will help you understand the differences between them.

Examples of patents include pharmaceutical drugs, toe nail clippers, beverage bottles, computers, toasters, generators, special bottling process, and Amazon's 1 Click to buy button. You can also patent new plant species with a plant patent.

Examples of copyright include books, songs, photos, paintings, screenplays, software code, and movies.

Should You Get a Patent and a Copyright?

If you're someone who has a product he wants to protect, you might be wondering whether you'll need a patent or a copyright. We hope that this article helped show you the difference between a patent and a copyright. In some cases, a person can protect his intellectual property with both a copyright and a patent.

One example of a situation where you can protect your intellectual property with both a patent and a copyright is software. Software code can be protected by copyright law just as the text of a novel would be protected. The functional aspects of software can be protected by applying for a patent. Most businesses opt to register their software with the U.S Copyright Office for copyright protection and patent their software through the USPTO.

That said, if you're interested in protecting your intellectual property, it's a good idea to consult an attorney and ask them for their advice. A good attorney will be able to get your product or work the best possible protection.

Patent Notice vs Copyright Notice

Here are some of the patent and copyright designations that you will find on common products that are either protected by a copyright, a patent, patent pending.

Patent Notice

  • Patented
  • Patent ##########
  • Patent Pending
  • Pat. Pen.
  • U.S Pat. Pen.
  • U.S Patent Pending
  • U.S Patent #########

Copyright Notice

  • The letter “c” in a circle (©)
  • The word "copyright"
  • The date the work was published
  • The name of the author or owner of the copyrighted work

You Cannot Copyright or Patent Merely an Idea

Some people often misunderstand copyright and patent law and think they can copyright or patent something that's just an idea. It's not that simple and you have to have something more concrete than just an idea.

To get a patent, you must have turned your idea into an invention that you can describe. You need to be able to describe how the invention can be made and explain the purpose of the invention. You can use a prototype that you have or offered detailed drawings showing how the invention can be made.

To get a copyright, your work must be fixed to a tangible medium of expression, such as a book, painting, song, or software. You can just copyright an idea of a book that you have.

Copyright vs Patent

This article explained the differences between a copyright and a patent. Hopefully after reading this article, you will know which intellectual property protect you need to protect your invention or work of art. If you have any general questions or comments about copyright vs patent, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


How to patent your idea

How to Patent an Idea?

If you've invented something new that will be very profitable once produced and sold, you may be wondering how to protect it from being copied by others. If that's you, you've come to right the spot. U.S Patent law offers inventors patents, which are intellectual property rights that prevent others from using, making, selling, or importing your idea or invention. So, how do you patent your idea to protect your intellectual property? We will answer this question below.

How do you Patent Your Idea?

In the United States, inventors can protect their inventions by applying for a patent. To patent your idea, you must have an invention that is patentable, no one must have patented it before you, and then you have to file a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark (USPTO). Patenting your idea or invention can be a complicated process that may require the assistance of a skilled patent attorney. We will give you the step-by-step process on how to get a patent in the coming sections.

What is a Patent?

A patent is a form of intellectual property right that the U.S Government grants to inventors to prohibit others from using, making, selling, or importing their inventions in the United States for a limited period of time. If someone copies your patented invention, you will be able to sue them for patent infringement.

For inventors, patents function as both a shield and a sword. As a sword, a patent allows you to make, use, and sell your invention while restricting others from doing the same. As a shield, it prevents others from taking an invention that's the same as yours, patenting it and then restricting you from using, making, or selling the invention.

This is so because the United States has "the first to file" rule for patents. Under this rule, the person who first files a patent application with the patent office has priority over anyone (even someone who invents the invention first) who files later. Priority means that the first to file can legally prohibit everyone else from taking advantage of the invention.

Types of Patents You Can Get

The USPTO currently offers four types of patents that you can apply for:

  • Utility Patent. A utility patent protects a product, process, machine, or improvement of one of them. Utility patents are the most common type of patent applied for, making up 93.6% of all patent applications.
  • Design Patent. A design patent protects the aesthetics, appearance or ornamental design of a functional item. Design patents make up 6.2% of all patent applications.
  • Plant Patent. A plant patent is a patent that protects newly invented or asexually reproduced a new and distinct type of plant. Plant patents make up less than 1% of all patent applications.
  • Software Patent. A software patent as the name implies, protect unique and new software. Software patents are hard to get and getting them typically requires the help of an experienced software patent attorney.

Why are Patents Important?

If you have a new invention, you might be wondering why are patents important? Patents are important for several reasons, the main reason being that they provides protection for your product or invention by allowing you to restrict others from using, making, or selling your invention without your express permission. Here are several reasons why you should protect your invention with a patent:

  • Protection. The main reason most people patent their invention or process is to restrict others from using, making, or selling their invention without their express permission to do so. Just remember that you can't sue anyone for patent infringement unless the USPTO has granted or issued your patent.
  • Priority. Patenting an invention before anyone else patents it gives the patent holder priority over others who seek to patent the same invention after the patent holder does so. Therefore, if you want to share your invention with third parties, it's smart to first file a patent application to protect yourself against someone who might steal your idea.
  • Limit Your Competition. Patenting your invention or products will help you curb any competition. If you have a competitors that copies your idea, by patenting your product, you can ask your competitors to stop selling your patented product. If they don't respond, you can always sue them for infringing upon your patent.
  • Exclusivity. If you are successful in patenting your invention, you will be able to exclusively profit and use your invention for 20 years from the filing date of your patent application (this applies to utility patents).
  • You will find a detailed explanation of why you should or should not get a patent here.

How to Protect your Idea or Invention Before Getting a Patent?

If you need help or input on your invention from third parties and you don't have a patent on your invention, you can have an attorney prepare a confidentiality agreement that they can sign to keep the details of your invention private.

While confidentiality agreements are not foolproof, they will make it less likely that the party you're sharing information with will steal or copy your idea. We often find confidentiality agreement used when sharing information between inventors, investors, friends, family, and students.

Keeping your invention confidential is important if you want to get a patent for your invention. It's important because you typically have to file a patent application for your invention before disclosing the invention to the public.

This is so because if the invention is disclosed to the public, it becomes prior art and when the patent examiner is considering whether the invention is new, if he finds the prior art, he may find that the invention is not new and reject the patent application.

That said, the United States along with some other countries offers a 12 month grace period, which allows application to file a patent application within 12 months of disclosing it to the public.

If any of the parties who signed the confidentiality agreement discloses your invention or tries to copy your idea, you will be able to sue them in court for breaking the agreement. If you want a good confidentiality agreement, contact an attorney in your jurisdiction and have them draft one for you.

Steps to Patent Your Idea

Patenting your invention is a long and somewhat complicated process. Knowing the steps you need to take to patent your idea or invention will help clarify things for you. Here are the steps you'll need to take to get a patent:

1) Make Sure your Idea Qualifies for a Patent

To get a patent, you can't patent just an idea, you need to show how your invention works. In addition to having an invention, your invention must be new and we will discuss the novel (new) requirement in the section directly below. Making sure that your invention qualifies for patent protection is very important especially since it requires a fair amount of your money and time to patent it.

2) To Get a Patent Your Invention Must be Novel (New)

To get a patent, U.S Law requires your invention to be new and useful. For your invention to be new means that some aspect of your invention was not known to the public before filing your patent application. The novelty (new) requirement was established to prevent prior art (publicly disclosed information) from being patented. Prior art includes all information that has been made available to the public is any form prior to filing your patent application with the USPTO. If the patent examiner finds that your invention has been described in prior art, your invention will be deemed not to be new.

3) Your Invention Must be Useful

Useful means that your invention provides some identifiable benefit or solves some problem. The patent office typically find inventions useful if they provide some identifiable benefit to society and it's capable of being used. Inventions are rarely challenged on the grounds that they are not useful. The USPTO guidelines require patent application to express a specific, credible, and substantial utility. When patent examiners examine your application, the patent office bears the burden of proving that your invention is not useful. The utility you claim in your application is presumed valid unless the patent examiner shows otherwise.

4) Choose the Protection you Need

If you are still working out the kinks from your invention or you want to improve it and you're not ready to file a nonprovisional (regular) patent application, you can apply for a provisional patent application to reserve a priority date for your invention while continuing to work on your invention. Some people often refer to this as a provisional patent, but it's really just a provisional patent application.

Once you file a provisional patent application, you can use the words patent pending on your products, its packaging, and materials. That said, provisional patents are only good for 12 months. During the 12 months, you must file a nonprovisional (regular) patent application to patent your invention.

The downside to using a provisional patent application is if you add anything new to the invention that was not included on the provisional application, you will need to file a new patent application to add any newly protected features.

That said, if you already completed work on your invention and you have the money to patent your product, you can skip the provisional patent application and file a regular patent application with the patent office.

Also, in addition to your utility patent application, you can file a design patent application to protect the way your invention looks because utility patents only protect how an article is used and how it works, so if you want to protect the aesthetics of your product, you'll need to file a design patent in addition to the utility patent application. Protecting both the utility and design of your invention makes your intellectual property more valuable.

5) Prepare & File Your Patent Application

Preparing and filling out your patent application to get a patent is a complicated process that requires you to comply with technical and formal requirements. The regular patent application has several parts and making mistakes, minor or major, can get your application rejected.

You do have the option of completing and filing your patent application yourself and the patent office is required to help you do so, however we always recommend that you consult and hire an attorney to complete and file your application for you.

If you choose to do it yourself, make a checklist of all of the requirements you need to comply with and double check your work as you move from one section of the application to the other.

If you do make a mistake, the patent office will usually give you a chance to correct it, however it will cost you time and money to submit corrections to the patent office.

We recommend that you hire an experienced patent, such as the ones at Legal Zoom because they have a team of experienced patent attorney who are skilled at drafting and filing patent applications for applicant such as yourself.

6) Wait For the USPTO to Respond

Once you've filed your patent application with the USPTO, you have to wait to hear back from them. Often times the patent examiner will reject your application arguing that your invention is not new, that your invention is not patentable, or that you have failed to explain how your invention works.

In any of these circumstances, you can usually reply to the USPTO arguing why your your patent application should be granted and why the patent examiner is wrong.

While your waiting to hear back from the patent office, you can start contacting potential customers for your product or you can contact companies that want to license the technology you're trying to patent.

Why you Should Not Patent Your Idea or Invention?

Patents are valuable form of intellectual property rights. You should not get a patent if your invention is not patentable or if your invention is patentable but will not become commercially successful. Patenting your invention can be a costly process, especially if you need an attorney to help you with your patent application.

So, how do you know if your invention is patentable?

1) USPTO Search. You should search the USPTO Patent Database to ensure that no one has patented an invention or process that's the same or similar to yours. If you find that there are no similar inventions, you should move on to other publications.

2) Search Expansion. If the USPTO search does not return any similar inventions, you can move on to searching other publications, such as scientific journals that relate to your invention.

3) Attorney. If for some reason you're having trouble performing the search on your own, don't feel discouraged because conducting the research on your own can be difficult. If you have an invention worth patenting, contact a patent attorney and have them help you perform the required research.

4) Notes. If while performing your research you find inventions that are similar to yours, write some notes about how your invention differs from them or how it improves upon them. Prepare a short explanation of why your invention is different from the ones that came before it.

Do you Need a Lawyer to Patent Your Idea?

We have seen many people successfully patent their idea or inventions on their own, so it's not totally unheard of for someone to prepare and file their own patent application. Finding a good patent attorney costs a lot of money, but they are better suited to conduct research and prepare your application for you.

While hiring an attorney doesn't guarantee the approval of your patent application, the chances of getting your application rejected for seemingly minor mistakes is a lot less with the help of an attorney.

If you choose to prepare and file your patent application on your own, you have to make sure that your invention qualifies for a patent and you will have to fill out the patent application. When filling out the patent application, you have to describe your invention and how it works.

That said, going it alone is very risky because you need to do a lot of work in a field that you may know little about. If you believe that you can get yourself a quality patent without the help of an attorney, you're free to do so, but if you have the money to hire an attorney and like the added convenience, hire an attorney to do the heavy lifting for you.

Patent attorneys have not only passed the bar exam, but they have also passed the patent bar exam. Most patent lawyers have a great grasp of how the patenting process works and the ins and outs of patent law to help you get the best patent protection possible.

Frequently Asked Questions (How to Get a Patent)

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about how to get a patent in the US:

1) How Much Does it Cost to Get a Patent?

When considering the costs for getting a patent, you have to consider the patent application fees and lawyer fees if you have one. If you are an individual inventor or a business with 500 employees or less, you will have to pay a filing fee of $150 for utility patents, $100 for design patents, and $140 for provisional patents.

The majority of the cost that you'll have to pay is for an attorney to prepare your nonprovisional (regular) patent application. Lawyer fees for utility patents range from $5,000 to $15,000+, depending on the complexity of your invention. Software patents often cost $15,000+ due to the complexity of software patent law.

The fees we just mentioned are to prepare and file your patent application. Often times the patent office will communicate with your attorney and your attorney might have to make adjustments to your patent application, this of course is not free and your attorney will likely charge you for these services.

For more information on patent costs check out this article.

2) How Long Does it Take to Get a Patent?

In 2019, it's currently taking 24 months from the date you file your patent to get a patent. Your patent application may take more or less time depending on how complex your invention is.

The USPTO currently has 550,000+ pending patent applications and only 8,000+ examiners to examine all of the applications. This is why the patent office is currently taking so long to approve application.

The first response from the USPTO is currently 16.4 months. Just remember that the first response you get from the patent office may not be an immediate approval, rather the response may be that your application is lacking in some aspect. You or your attorney will have an opportunity to reply and argue why your application is not lacking and a patent should be granted.

3) Why do Patent Attorneys Charge So Much to Get a Patent?

Patent attorneys charge a lot of money because they have specific experience in the field of patent law and scientific or engineering experience that relates to the field of the invention they're seeking to patent.

Good patent attorneys are highly skilled in their field and many patent attorneys negotiate with the patent office on your behalf to get you the best patent protection possible. But any negotiations and communications that the attorney has to do with the patent office is usually in addition to the filing expenses you first paid.

While you may be tempted to prepare and file the patent application on your own, paying for a decent patent attorney may save you time and money down the road.

4) Why Should I get a Patent?

You should get a patent if you have an invention that's worth protecting. Patents give you exclusive ownership over your invention for a limited period of time. For utility patents, you will enjoy ownership for 20 years from the filing date of your patent application, for design patents you get 15 years of protection from the date your patent is granted, and for plant patents you get 20 years of protection from the filing date of your patent application.

Having a patent over your invention allows you to restrict others from using, making, selling, and importing your invention to the United States. However, patents issued by the USPTO cannot be used to restrict others from making or selling your invention in other countries. For protection in other countries, you will need to get a patent in every country that you want patent protection in.

Patent Pending

Once you've applied to get a patent, your invention immediately becomes patent pending and you can instantaneously begin marketing it as such. That said, while your patent is pending, you are not protected from patent infringement because you cannot sue anyone for infringing upon a patent that is still pending.

That said, having the words patent pending on your product puts potential copiers and thieves on notice that you're actively seeking legal protection for your product. In the even that the USPTO grants your patent, you will be able to take legal action against those that infringe upon your patent.

Filing a Provisional Patent Application to Patent Your Idea Fast

Filing your patent application quickly is more important today than it ever was before thanks to the first to file rule in the United States. Under the first to file rule, priority is given to the applicant who files his patent first. This makes the benefits of establishing ownership over intellectual property more important than ever.

As mentioned previously, filing a provisional patent application, just like filing a regular patent application gives you patent pending status. This gives you plenty of time to test the market and see if there's a market for your invention.

With a provisional patent application, you can approach manufacturers for quotes and you can approach buyers to see if they're willing to place an order for your patent pending product. By the end of your market research, you should have a good idea of whether there's a market for your idea and whether you need to make any improvements to your invention.

Since provisional patent applications are almost never read or examined by the patent office (unlike non-provisional applications), this buys you an extra year of secrecy. Non-provisional patent applications are typically made public after 18 months of filing.

Overall, provisional patent applications are great to use before using a regular application. Provisional patent applications gives you the freedom to speculate, test the waters, and ultimately make a more informed decision about whether you really want to get a patent for your invention.

How to Patent an Idea or Product? (Concluded)

Now you know that getting a patent is a great way to protect your intellectual property rights. We shared all of the information relating to how to patent your idea or invention in the United States, whether you should hire an attorney to get a patent, and the steps you need to take to patent your idea or invention. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


provisional patent cost, how much does a provisional patent cost

Provisional Patent Cost (Everything You Need to Know)

If you want to protect your invention and attain patent pending status, a provisional patent is the way to go. The USPTO sets the costs for filing your provisional patent. The cost of a provisional patents depends on a few factors that we will discuss in detail below.

How Much Does a Provisional Patent Cost?

The cost of a provisional patent depends on whether your filing as a micro entity, small entity, or large entity. A provisional patent costs $70 for micro entities, $140 for small entities, and $280 for large entities. There are no additional fees for submitting a provisional patent application. We will now explain who qualifies as a micro-entity, small entity, and large entity.

Miro Entities are eligible for a 75% reduction on most USPTO fees. To better explain this, the current cost to file a provisional utility patent is $280 for large entities. For small entities there is a 50% reduction of fees, bringing the cost to $140. For Micro entities, there is a 75% reduction in fees, bring the cost to file a provisional utility patent down to $70.

The cost of filing a non-provisional (regular) patent application includes three components:

  • Basic Filing Fee
  • The Search Fee
  • Examination Fee

For provisional patents, you will only have to only pay the filing fees because the USPTO will not examine your application, nor will it perform a patent search. This makes filing a provisional patent application a smart choice for inventors who do not have the funds to file a regular non-provisional patent application.

If you choose to file your provisional patent on your own, you will only need to pay the application filing fees. If you choose to have an attorney prepare your provisional patent, your attorney may charge you professional fees for preparing your application.

Micro Entity Provisional Patent Cost

If you qualify as a micro entity, you will only have to pay $70 to file your provisional patent application. If you meet the requirements, you will need to execute a declaration that you meet the requirements when you pay the fee.

To qualify as a micro entity, an applicant for a U.S provisional patent must meet the following requirements.

  • The inventor or applicant must be:
    • An individual, or
    • Small Business (Business with 500 of fewer employees),or
    • A university, or
    • 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization
  • The inventor or applicant must not have been named on a total of more than 4 non-provisional (regular) patents, design patents, or plant patents
  • The inventor or applicant must have had a gross income in the previous year of less than the media income reported by the Bureau of Census. The most recently publicly available gross income limit is $184,116

Small Entity Provisional Patent Cost

If you qualify as a small entity, you will only have to pay $140 to file your provisional patent application. You will need to prepare a declaration you meet the small entity requirements when you pay the fee.

For an inventor to qualify as a small entity, he must meet the following criteria:

  • The applicant must be:
    • An individual,
    • A small business having no more than 500 employees,
    • A university, or
    • 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

Large Entity Provisional Patent Cost

Large entities have to pay $280 to file their provisional patent application. Large entities are applicants with 500 or more employees. When counting employees for the purpose of determining the provisional patent fee, you must include any affiliates under the control of the applicant.

If you have mistakenly paid large entity fees for your provisional patent when you're a small entity, you can file a request for a refund within three months of paying the fee. Just remember, you must request the refund within these three months and you cannot request a refund beyond the three month mark.

Provisional Patent Extra Pages Cost

If you have a very complicated invention that you're seeking to patent, you may have to pay additional fees for each additional 50 sheets that exceed the 100 sheet limit. For micro-entities, each additional 50 sheets cost $100, for small entities, the cost is $200, and for large entities, the cost is $400.

Provisional Patent Lawyer Cost

If you're having an attorney prepare and file your provisional patent, you should expect to pay $1,500 to $3,000 in lawyers' fees depending on the complexity of your patent. Lawyer fees often include the cost of planning and preparing your provisional patent applicant, as well as the cost to perform a patent research and communicate their findings with you.

The more complex your patent, the more you should expect to pay. For example, the cost to have an attorney prepare a provisional software patent costs more than preparing a provisional patent application for a simple, straightforward invention. This is so because preparing a provisional software patent application requires much more research and drafting than other provisional patents.

Even for a provisional patent, although hiring an attorney may seem like an expensive option, not having an attorney help you out can end up costing you more money if you make a mistake. Hiring an attorney after making a mistake can cost you more money since the attorney will have to clean up the mess you've made.

Understanding Provisional Patent Cost

When applying for a provisional patent, you can either prepare and file the application yourself or you can hire an attorney to do the work for you. You may be tempted to pay the $70 and file your provisional patent on your own, but having an attorney help you complete the application and file it on your behalf may save you time and money down the road.

Attorneys will typically charge you for performing research and filling out your provisional patent application. Some attorneys will even charge you for communicating with you via phone or email. While hiring an attorney to prepare and file your provisional patent may be more expensive than doing it yourself, it's the best way to ensure that everything is filled out properly to get you the strongest patent protection down the road.

Having an attorney prepare your nonprovisional patent application is much more expensive than a provisional patent. Attorneys typically charge $5,000 to $15,000, depending on the complexity of your invention. The more complex your invention or process, the more work your attorney will have to do, raising the cost of preparing your nonprovisional patent application.

The fees don't end there after the patent office grants a patent, the patent holder is liable for paying maintenance fees at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years of the patent term. The payments are $800, $1,800, and $3,700.

If the patent holder does not make these required payments, the patent will expire. The USPTO does offer a six month grace period, allowing payments to be made at 4, 8, and 12 years.

The provisional patent cost goes up as the invention becomes more complex. Provisional software patents often cost $15,000+, making them among the most expensive provisional patents to obtain.

Turning Your Provisional Patent into a Non-provisional Patent

If within the 12 months after filing your provisional patent application, you choose to pursue patenting your application, you must either:

  • File a (regular) nonprovisional patent application with the patent office, claiming the benefit of an earlier-filed provisional application, or
  • The inventor can file a petition with the patent office to convert his provisional patent into a nonprovisional application.

Doing either of these things will give you a nonprovisional patent application, but there is a major difference between choosing the first option versus the second option.

If you choose to file a full patent application that claims the provisional application's filing date, your patent term will be measured from the filing date of the provisional patent application.

If you choose to convert your provisional patent into a nonprovisional patent application, your patent term will be measured from the filing date of of your nonprovisional application.

For a nonprovisional application to successfully claim a previously filed provisional application's filing date, the description of the invention in both application must be similar. Said differently, the patent office must determine that the descriptions of both applications represent the same invention.

Having said that, you should thoroughly describe your invention in the provisional patent application. Including illustrations of your invention in your application will help add thoroughness to your application. The saying that "a picture is worth a thousand words" applies here. If you have excellent illustrations, they will be able to supplement the written description of your invention.

Provisional Patent Cost (Don't Cut Corners)

If you've looked into patenting your invention you probably know that the process isn't cheap. Provisional patents are inexpensive compared to non-provisional patents, so people often cut corners by preparing and filing the provisional patent application on their own. By doing so they make a few mistakes, here are some of the mistakes we see most often:

  • Writing an inadequate description that doesn't fully describe your invention
  • Not including detailed drawings of your invention
  • Not describing all of the variations of your invention

If you're planning on getting a patent from the patent office, you'll have to file a non-provisional patent application after your provisional patent. To have your invention protected from the date you filed your provisional patent, the descriptions between your provisional patent and your non-provisional patent have to describe the same invention. If the descriptions are not similar, you can lose the rights under your provisional patent.

Why Should You Apply for a Provisional Patent?

Many investors choose to file a provisional patent to protect the invention or process they have made while continuing to work on their invention. Provisional patents have much less formalities that applicants have to abide by when compared to nonprovisional applications.

Provisional patents allow you to work on your invention for 12 months without having to worry about your invention being stolen. Just remember that the 12 month clock beings ticking as soon as you file your provisional patent. You also have to file your nonprovisional patent application with the USPTO within those 12 months.

Just remember that while you may work on your invention to improve it, if your inventions changes too much from the description you made in your provisional patent, you may lose the ability to claim the filing date of the provisional patent. So, make sure your invention is well though out from the early stages and do as much research on it before filing for your provisional patent.

Preparing a Provisional Patent Application

Once you file your provisional patent with the USPTO, will immediately be able to include the words "patent pending" on your invention, its packaging, and any accompanying materials. Like any other filings made with the patent office, you do have the option to file your provisional patent on your own, but you will greatly benefit from the help of an experienced, registered patent attorney. A competent patent attorney will ensure that all of the technical rules are followed and everything is completed properly.

When preparing your provisional patent application, here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Description Requirements. Make sure that you perform enough research prior to filing your provisional patent so that you're able to adequately describe your invention, it's purpose, and how it can be operated.
  • Broad Description. When preparing your description, keep it as broad as possible while still maintaining the accuracy of your description. Avoid confining your invention to overly specific details.
  • Avoid Restrictive Language. Avoid using words, such as "necessary," "must," and "vital to" when describing your invention. These words will restrict the scope of your invention and your patent if the patent office grants it. This is not to say that you shouldn't include as much details as possible, just don't box yourself in a corner with limiting language.

Reasons Not to Pursue a Provisional Patent

If you have worked out all of the kinks from your invention and you're ready for the real thing, you can skip the provisional patent application and file a regular, nonprovisional patent application.

Many inventors often opt to file a provisional patent application because it's something they can do on their own, but it may not even be necessary. If you are worried about your competition stealing your idea and you have completed work on your invention, you can file a regular (nonprovisional) application from the beginning.

In fact, you can use the money that you saved on the preparation of a provisional patent to pay an attorney to research and complete your nonprovisional patent application.

Frequently Asked Questions (Provisional Patents)

1) Are there any additional provisional patent application costs?

For a provisional patent, you only need to pay the provisional patent application filing fee if you're preparing the application on your own. If you need the assistance of an attorney, you will have to pay them for their time. Also, you should submit drawings of your invention with your provisional patent and these typically cost $50 to $100 per drawing.

2) Are provisional patent applications expensive?

Provisional patent applications cost $70 in filing fees, but this amount does not include any lawyer fees. If you hire an attorney, expect to pay between $1,500 and $3,000+ in fees. The more complex your invention, the more you will end up paying because the attorney will have to do more work, which means more billable hours for you.

3) What is the cheapest way to get a provisional patent?

The cheapest way to get a provisional patent is to prepare and file the application yourself with the USPTO. In this scenario, you will only need to pay the $70 filing fee.

4) What sources can I use to assist me with my provisional patent?

You can use sources like UpCounsel, they have attorneys who are ready to help you complete and file your provisional patent application. According to their website, attorneys typically charge $1,500 for this service. There are cheaper websites out there, but if you're invention is important to you, it's best that you find someone qualified to do the work for you.

Cost of Provisional Patent

This article covered the cost of provisional patents. We covered the costs of a provisional patent depending on size of your entity. For individuals, filing a provisional patent is significantly less than businesses with more than 500 employees. If you have any general questions or comments about how much provisional patents cost, please leave them in the comments section below.


What is a provisional patent?

What is a Provisional Patent

If you've spent the past few months working on your invention, you're probably wondering how to protect your invention? You've probably heard that you should get a provisional patent. We are here to tell you that the patent office does not offer provisional patents, it does, however, offer patents. This article will explain all of the details you need to know about the provisional patent application.

Applying for a provisional patent application will get you a priority date and patent pending status, but provisional patent applications do not mature into patents. To get a patent, you will have to file a non-provisional (regular) patent application at the USPTO within 12 months of filing your provisional patent application.

Provisional Patent Application Explained

Provisional patents are very useful and beneficial, especially in the United States, which gives priority to the party that files its patent application first. Under the first-to-file rule, priority is given to the first party that files it's provisional or non-provisional patent application. To get priority, you must have filed your patent application prior to disclosing the invention or offering it for sale.

The USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) began offering provisional patent application on June 8th, 1995. At this time, the USPTO also changed the patent term from 17 years from the date a patent is issued to 20 years from the patent application filing date.

As part of a provisional patent application, you will have to write a description of your invention and you will have to include several drawings of your invention. You will have to include any drawings that are necessary for the patent examiner to understand the subject matter you're seeking to patent.

Unlike a non-provisional (regular) patent application, a provisional patent application doesn't required formal patent claims, an inventors oath, or an information disclosure statement (IDS).

Provisional Patent Application Examination

Provisional patent applications do not become a granted patent. This is so because provisional applications are not examined by the patent office, they are merely placeholders in time, reserving a priority date for your invention.

Provisional patent applications are not examined by the patent office. The examination is delayed for provisional applications. However, if an inventor wants to obtain a patent, he must file a nonprovisional application within 12 months of filing a provisional patent application. Said differently, for a provisional application to become a patent, it must either be converted into a nonprovisional application or the inventor must file a nonprovisional patent application that relates back to the provisional patent. Rarely will the patent office extend the 12 month pendency period of a provisional patent application.

If your invention is ready and does not require any modifications or tweaks and you have financial power, you can just skip the provisional application and apply for a regular patent application. Non-provisional patent application requires a high amount of detail and they are examined by the patent examiner. If a patent examiner determines that the application meets the requirements of the patent office, the patent application is granted and a patent is issued.

Provisional Patent Application Tip

If you have filed a provisional patent application you should be aware of the consequences of converting your provisional patent application into a nonprovisional application vs filing a nonprovisional patent application claiming the benefit of the provisional application.

You can file a provisional patent application up to 12 months following the inventor's public disclosure of his invention. Just remember that although public disclosure is permitted in the United States, such pre-filing disclosure of your invention may prohibit you from patenting your invention overseas.

So, what counts as a public disclosure of your invention?

  • Publication of your invention
  • Public use of your invention
  • Offering your invention for sale

The patent term for a patent that issues from a nonprovisional application that results from the conversion of a provisional application is measured from the original filing date of the provisional patent application.

However, if an inventor files a nonprovisional patent application that claims priority to an earlier-filed provisional application, the patent term will begin from the date of filing the nonprovisional application. This could extend the life of a patent by up to 12 months.

Provisional Patent Application Requirements

Provisional patent application must name all of the inventor(s) involved in making the invention. As previously stated, you can file a provisional patent application up to 12 months after an inventor's disclosure of the invention. Filing a patent application more than 12 months after disclosing your invention will preclude you from patenting your invention.

According to 35 U.S.C 112(a), to qualify for a provisional patent application, you must include a description of your invention, as well as how to make it and use it so that a person skilled in the field of your invention will be able to make the invention and use it.

Although the USPTO does not require you to file any drawings with your provisional patent application, you can certainly include any drawing that are necessary to understand the invention.

Your provisional patent application should include all of the following items:

  • Filing application as a provisional patent application
  • Name of all inventor(s)
  • Inventor(s) residence(s)
  • Title of your invention
  • Name and registration information of any attorneys helping you out
  • Address for correspondence from USPTO
  • Include any government agency that has a property interest in your invention.

Written Description of Your Invention

The description of your invention should be clear and easy to understand. You should use terminology that enables someone who's skilled in the field of your invention to understand how to make and use your invention. You should include the following in the description of your invention:

  • Title of the invention
  • Purpose of the invention
  • Steps of the invention
  • How the invention performs its steps
  • How users operate the invention
  • Advantages of the invention

Drawings For Your Invention

While the patent office does not require that you submit drawings with your provisional patent application, include them especially if they are necessary for someone to understand your invention and how it works. This is important especially when used to establish priority. You want your provisional patent application to adequately describe the full scope the invention that you want to claim in your non-provisional patent application.

Drawings are your best friends and although we know that some of you may want to cut corners to save money, drawings are not the place to do so. You've probably heard that pictures are worth a 1000 words and this couldn't be more true for your provisional patent application. Drawings can supplement and fix many of the mistakes or shortcomings in your written disclosure, so having professionally made drawings is your best option. Professional drawings can be obtained from $50 to $100 for each drawing.

Reminders

Just remember that you need to include enough details to successfully file you provisional patent application. If for some reasons the patent examiner decides that your nonprovisional application is too different from your provisional filing, you will lose the benefit of your provisional patent application filing date for any new subject matter.

If the patent examiner thinks that there differences between the two applications are great enough to show that you were not in possession of your invention, you may lose the benefit of your provisional filing date for a new subject matter.

The description of your invention in your provisional patent application must support your nonprovisional application to avoid rejection of new subject matter.

Provisional Patent Application Benefits

Filing provisional patent application has many benefits that we will cover below.

Priority Filing Date

Filing a provisional patent application will help you lock in your priority filing date for the lowest possible price. Filing a provisional patent application can be done by paying the patent office a fee of $140 for small entities. Small entities include individual inventors and businesses with fewer than 500 employees.

Patent Pending Status

Filing a provisional patent applications allows you to use the term "patent pending" on your products, their packaging, and any accompanying materials. This shows any potential investors that you are serious about your invention and that you have taken legal steps to protect your invention. Patent pending also puts your competitors on notice that you're invention may be protected at a later date and that you will enforce your rights under U.S patent law if they copy your invention.

Lower Cost Than Non-provisional Patent Application

Provisional patent applications cost less than non-provisional patent application. The cost to file a provisional patent application comes in at $140 for a provisional application and $150 for a non-provisional application, but you'll save money if you're seeking the help of an attorney to file a provisional patent application vs a non-provisional application.

Some feel comfortable filling out a provisional application on their own while most will need the help of an attorney to fill out a non-provisional patent application. Attorneys typically charge between $5,000 to $15,000 to file a non-provisional patent application, whereas they charge between $1,500 to $3,500 to file a non-provisional patent application, which makes filing a provisional application significantly cheaper.

Secret

Provisional patent applications are not published (made public) because they are not examined by the USPTO and therefore don't get published. Provisional patent applications remain secret at the USPTO with a few exceptions.

Immediate Acceptance

The USPTO immediately accepts provisional patent applications, allowing you to mark your invention as patent-pending immediately. This is so because provisional patent applications are not examined by the patent office.

Provisional Patent

As a reminder, you can file a provisional patent application to claim patent pending status for 12 months, during which you must file a non-provisional patent application that will mature into a granted patent. While there is no such thing as a provisional patent, filing your provisional patent application will afford you the protections and benefits we described above. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.