how to patent something

How to Patent Something?

If you've just finished working on an awesome invention, you might be wondering how you can patent that invention. The USPTO allows inventors to patent something so long as it meets the patenting requirements and a patent application is properly prepared and filed with the patent office. We will go into much detail about what you need to do to patent something below.

How to Patent Something?

You should follow these steps if you want to patent something:

  • Determine the proper type of IP protection

  • Determine the type of patent you need

  • Does your invention meet the patenting requirements of:

    1. Patentable subject matter

    2. Novelty

    3. Nonobviousness

    4. Usefulness

  • Prepare your patent application

  • File your patent application for & pay the applicable fees

  • Checking the status of your patent application & following up with the patent office

Determine the Proper Type of IP Protection

U.S Law offers holders of intellectual property several different ways to protect it. For example, patent law allows inventors to patent their inventions, machines, process, and designs. Obtaining a patent allows inventors to stop others from using their inventions without their permission for a limited period of time.

Trademark law allows mark holders to register their marks with the USPTO to stop others from using their marks in ways that confuse consumers as to the source of goods or services.

Copyright law allows the creators of artistic works, such as songs, books, articles, movies, and drawings to protect their work by registering their work of art with the US Copyright Office. Registration allows artists to stop others from misusing or copying their artwork without their express permission.

If you've determined that the proper IP protection for you is a patent, you should proceed to the next section to determine what type of patent you need for your invention.

Determine the Type of Patent You Need

Once you've determined that your IP can be protected by a patent, you should decide what type of patent you need. 99% of patents filed are utility patents and design patents, so you're probably wondering what the difference is between a utility patent and a design patent.

Utility Patents

Utility patents protect new inventions, machines, processes, compositions of matters, articles of manufacture, and any improvements of these. That said, utility patents protect how inventions work and how they're used by the end-user.

Design Patents

Design patents, on the other hand, protect the aesthetic or appearance of an invention. Said differently, design patents protect how an invention looks or the design of an invention.

So, now you should be able to determine whether your invention requires a utility patent or a design patent.

Both Types of Patents

You should know that some inventions qualify for both a utility patent as well as a design patent. However, to obtain both patents, an inventor must file both a utility patent application and a design patent application.

The utility patent application protects how the invention works or functions and the design patent protects the appearance of your invention.

If your invention has a unique function, as well as a unique appearance that customers like, you should consider applying for both types of patent protection.

Does Your Invention Meet the Patenting Requirements?

To patent your invention, the invention must meet the following requirements set forth under US Patent Law.

1) Patentable Subject Matter

To patent something at the USPTO, the invention must have a patentable subject matter, meaning that the invention must be one for which patent law offers protection.

Patent law allows inventors to patent machines, processes, compositions of matters, articles of manufacture, and designs. So long as your invention falls within one of these categories, you can proceed with patenting your invention.

2) Novelty

To patent something, your invention must be novel. The novelty requirement mandates that your invention be different from anything that has ever been patented before and different from anything that has ever been publicly disclosed.

US Patent Law has placed the novelty requirement to stop people from re-patenting once patented inventions. If an inventor cannot show that his invention is novel, he will not be able to patent it in the US.

If you have an invention, you must file a patent application within 12 months of publicly disclosing your invention or offering it for sale.

Also, prior to filing a patent application with the USPTO, it is critical that an applicant perform a prior art search to ensure that no one else has ever patented the invention or publicly disclosed the invention that the applicant wants to patent.

If the prior art search does not turn up inventions that are the same, an applicant can proceed with patenting his invention. However, if the patent search turns up inventions that are the same, the applicant should not file a patent application because the patent office will reject the application for lack of novelty.

3) Nonobviousness

The third requirement to patent something is that an invention is non-obvious at the time an applicant files a patent application with the USPTO.

Said differently, to patent an invention, the invention must be non-obvious and sufficiently different from anything that was already patented or publicly disclosed.

To test nonobviousness, the patent examiner conducts a subjective determination that asks whether an ordinary person skilled in the field of the invention would have believed the invention to be obvious at the time an applicant filed his patent application.

The nonobviousness inquiry is a subjective and factual inquiry that is undertaken by the patent examiner to determine whether the invention is, in fact, something that's new or whether it's just a combination of previously patented or publicly disclosed inventions.

Nonobviousness is the biggest hurdle that inventors face and must overcome to successfully patent their inventions.

To overcome nonobviousness, it helps if an applicant is able to show that there is a big difference between his invention and previously patented inventions and publicly disclosed invention.

It also helps if an inventor can show that his invention solves a problem or offers a solution for a problem that no other invention has been able to solve as this goes to show that the invention functions differently and achieves a desired result that no other invention has been able to achieve.

4) Usefulness (Utility)

To obtain a patent for something, an inventor must show that his invention is useful or offers some utility. Said differently, an inventor must show that his invention offers some identifiable benefit to society.

For many inventions, their utility is apparent from the invention itself. Take for example nail clippers, any person looking at them or their description will know that the benefit offered by them is the ability to trim nails, as such including a statement about their utility is not necessary.

However, for some inventions, utility is not readily apparent. In such a situation, it would be wise to include a statement that explains the utility of the invention (benefit of the invention).

Inventions are rarely rejected on the grounds that they are not useful, but to make sure that you satisfy this requirement, it's a good idea to include a short statement that highlights the utility or usefulness of your invention.

Preparing a Strong Patent Application

After you've determined that your invention qualifies for a patent and you've successfully conducted a prior art search, it's time to prepare your patent application.

Preparing a patent application is one of the most time-consuming parts of patenting your invention, but it's the most important part because it sets the scope of protection for your invention.

Hiring an experienced patent attorney to prepare your patent application is the most important thing you can do to obtain the strongest patent protection for your invention.

A patent application must include the following sections:

  • Title of your invention
  • Cross-references to relevant patent applications
  • A statement explaining any Federally sponsored R&D
  • Background of the invention
  • Summary of the invention
  • Invention drawings
  • Brief description of the drawings
  • Invention claims
  • Abstract of the invention

The patent application for an invention must include sufficient detail to enable both the patent examiner and a person familiar with the field of the invention to understand how to make the invention, as well as how to use it.

Preparing a well-written and strong patent application is essential to obtaining the strongest patent protection for your invention. This is so because a patent application is similar to a deed of land in that the patent application sets the scope of protection for the invention just as a land deed sets the boundaries of a piece of land.

As such, hiring an experienced patent attorney to prepare your patent application is essential to obtaining the best and broadest protection possible for your invention.

If you don't have the funds to hire a patent attorney, you should explore the option of hiring a patent agent to prepare your patent application for you.

Patent agents, like patent attorneys, are licensed by the USPTO to assist inventors with preparing their patent application, filing it with the patent office, prosecuting them, and communicating with the patent office on an inventor's behalf.

As such, if you can't hire a patent attorney, you may want to hire a decent patent agent because they are familiar with the process of patenting an invention.

Hiring one can save you a lot of money and time down the road by avoiding easy mistakes that you may make if you choose to prepare your patent application on your own.

Filing Your Patent Application with the USPTO & Paying the Applicable Fees

Once you or your attorney have prepared a patent application, it's time to file your patent application. Filing can be done online using the USPTO website.

At the time you file a patent application online you will have to pay the associated filing fees and patenting fees.

Utility patent fees are typically much higher than design patent fees because utility patents are more complex and have more patent claims.

Design patents are less expensive than utility patents because an inventor can only claim one design per design patent application.

Since design patents only have one claim, they take less time to prepare and are therefore less costly than utility patents which can take a lot more time to prepare and file.

The patent office charges significantly lower fees when it comes to filing fees, search fees, and examination fees for design patents vs utility patents.

Checking the Status of Your Patent Application

Once you've filed your patent application, you should check the status of your patent application by using the USPTO PAIR system. The pair system has the latest and most up-to-date information about your patent application.

Make sure that you periodically check the status of your application as the patent examiner may have sent you information about your pending patent application.

You should check to see if the patent office has requested any information or requires changes/amendments to your patent application.

If the patent office requires some action on your part, you should contact your patent attorney and ask them to handle the matter for you in a timely manner.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Patent?

We will now cover how much it costs to get a utility patent and how much it costs to get a design patent.

Utility Patent Cost

  • Filing fees: $75
  • Patent search fees: $165
  • Patent examination fees: $190
  • Attorney fees: $7,500 to $15,000+ (depends on invention)
  • Utility patent issue fee: $250

Design Patent Cost

  • Filing fees: $50
  • Patent search fees: $40
  • Patent examination fees: $150
  • Attorney fees: $1,500 to $3,000
  • Design patent issue fee: $175

Patent Rebel Comment: The costs associated with patenting an invention can vary depending on the complexity of your invention, how much assistance you're offering the attorney preparing your patent application, as well as the geographic location of the attorney that's assisting you with patenting your invention. Attorneys in different regions charge different amounts for their services.

How Long Does it Take to Patent an Invention?

According to data from the USPTO, it currently takes the patent office 24 months to process a utility patent application and it takes them 20 months to process a design patent application. When we say process, we mean it takes the patent office that much time to either grant or deny a patent application.

If you need to patent your invention as quickly as possible, the patent office offers two different services to expedite patent applications.

Expediting a Utility Patent Application

The patent office allows applicants of utility patent applications to expedite their patent application by applying for Track One. Track One service promises to either grant or deny a patent application within 12 months. However, there are some reports of the patent office granting patent applications within as little as 6 months by using this service. That said, to expedite a utility patent application, an applicant will have to pay an extra fee in addition to the normal patenting fees.

Expediting a Design Patent Application

Applicants can expedite a design patent application by filing a request to expedite their design patent application. The request to expedite a design patent application is known as Rocket Docket and can be made at the time an applicant files his design patent application with the USPTO. To use Rocket Docket, an applicant will have to pay an extra fee in addition to the regular patenting fees to obtain a design patent.

Why Are Patents Important for Inventors?

Patents are important to inventors because they allow patent holders to stop others from using, making, selling, offering to sell, and importing the patent invention to the United States for a limited period of time.

Utility patents grant these rights to a patent holder for 20 years. The 20-year patent term begins at the moment an applicant file a nonprovisional utility patent application with the patent office.

Design patents, on the other hand, grant these rights to a patent holder for 15 years. The 15-year patent term for a design patent begins at the time the patent office grants a design patent application.

During the patent term, a patent holder may be able to sell the patented item or object while controlling who sells any competing objects that function the same way as the product or object that the patent holder has patented.

This offers the patent holder an advantage over others by allowing him or her to exclusively profit from the sale of the patented invention.

Also, by patenting an invention, the patent holder can license the use of his invention to others in exchange for an agreed-upon royalty or fee. Patents make this process easier and more clear because the patent application lays out the scope of rights that the patent holder is allowing others to use.

As such, there are many benefits to patenting an invention. However, before spending the time and money to patent an invention, an inventor should consult with his own patent attorney to determine whether proceeding with the patenting process is worth it for his specific situation.

Frequently Asked Questions Patent Rebel Receives (FAQs)

1) Can you patent an idea or a concept?

The short answer is: no, you cannot patent merely an idea or concept. You much have something more concrete. To patent something, you have to be able to explain how it works or functions, as well as how it's used.

To patent your invention, you invention must be something for which the patent office offers a patent, such as a machine, process, article of manufacture, composition of matter, or a design.

If your invention does not fall within one of these categories or one of the prohibited categories, the patent office will not allow you to patent it.

2) What is the difference between a utility patent and a design patent?

A utility patent protects how an invention works or the functional aspects of an invention. Design patents, on the other hand, protect the aesthetics or appearance of an invention. Said differently, design patents protect how an invention looks or appears.

An inventor should know which type of patent he or she needs because utility patents and design patents protect different aspects of an invention.

Some inventions can qualify for either a design patent or a utility patent and some can qualify for both types of patents.

That said, if you want to protect your invention with both a design patent and a utility patent, you will need to apply for each protection separately, meaning you'll have to prepare and file both a utility patent application, as well as a design patent application.

3) What qualifies for a patent?

For something to qualify for a patent, it must have a patentable subject matter, meaning it's something that patent law protects, such as a machine, process, article, formula, or design. Also, to patent something, it must be new and unique, meaning it's different from anything that has ever been patented and anything that has been publicly disclosed or offered for sale more than 12 months before an applicant files a patent application with the patent office.

4) Can you patent a product that already exists?

No, you cannot patent a product that already exists and is offered for sale to the public. To patent something, you must be the original inventor of the item you're seeking to patent. Also, to get a patent on something, it must not have been publicly disclosed prior to you filing a patent application. In the event that a product is already being offered to the public, you cannot patent it because it is not novel (new), but rather something that is already publicly available.

5) How do I find out if someone else has already patented the invention I want to patent?

You can find out of someone else has already patented the invention that you want to patent by conducting a prior art search. Said differently, you should conduct a search of the USPTO patent database to check whether someone else has already patented an invention that's the same as or similar to the one that you're seeking to patent. You should also perform a search of sources that could include inventions that are similar to yours. This is so because the patent office will not allow you to patent an invention that has already been patented before, nor will it allow you to patent an invention that has been publicly disclosed.

6) Can anyone see a patent?

Yes, if you successfully patent your invention, anyone can conduct a search of the USPTO database to see your patent. Once a patent holder's patent expires, the public will be able to use, make, and sell the patented invention without having to obtain the patent holder's permission. That said, if you don't want your invention to become public, you should talk to an attorney and discuss other options or methods to protect your invention.

7) Does my invention qualify for a patent?

For an invention to qualify for a patent, an invention must have the following:

  • Patentable subject matter
  • Novelty
  • Nonobviousness
  • Usefulness (Utility)

For a more in-depth explanation, read above as this article goes into great detail about the requirements for patenting an invention or design.

How to Get a Patent on Something?

According to Patent Rebel, to obtain a patent on something, such as invention, machine, process, composition, article, or design, an applicant should hire an attorney to assist him with the process of patenting his invention, especially if an inventor does not have experience patenting inventions.

To get a patent, an attorney will then conduct a prior art search to determine whether anyone has already patented the same invention. If no one has patented the same invention or improvement, the attorney will then proceed to preparing a strong patent application, filing it with the patent office, paying the applicable fees, and prosecuting the patent application.

If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below. Please remember that we are only offering general legal information, to know more about your specific situation, you should contact a licensed patent attorney in your jurisdiction.


getting a patent on your own

Getting a Patent on Your Own

If you have an invention that you want to patent but don't want to pay a huge amount of money to an attorney, you do have the option of patenting your invention on your own without the help of an attorney. The USPTO will even offer you help to patent your invention if you choose to do so on your own. We will now show you how you can get a utility or design patent on your own.

That said, although the patent office offers help to inventors, they do recommend that you hire an attorney to assist you with the preparation, filing, and prosecution of your patent application.

The USPTO recommends hiring an attorney because patent law is quite complex and making even small mistakes can cause trouble down the road. That said, we will provide as many details as possible to assist you with patenting your invention on your own.

That said, inventors do have the option of patenting their invention on their own without having to hire a lawyer.

Why Do Inventors Get Patents?

It's beneficial to patent an invention because obtaining a patent on an invention allows a patent holder to control who uses, makes, sells, offers to sell, and imports the patented invention to the United States.

Said differently, patents allow their holders to profit exclusively from their invention without having to worry about others making and selling the patented invention.

Having said that, let's dive into how you should approach patenting your invention without an attorney.

So, how exactly do you get a patent on your own? We will explain this in much detail below.

Getting a Patent on Your Own

Here are the steps that you need to take to get a patent on your own.

  • Determine whether your invention qualifies for patent protection
  • Determine what type of patent you need (Utility or Design)
  • Keep your invention secret
  • Perform a prior art search
  • Prepare a patent application
  • File the patent application with the USPTO
  • Pay applicable patenting fees
  • Track the status of your patent application

1) Determine whether your invention qualifies for patent protection

To get a patent on your own, you must have something that patent law protects. Patent law in the U.S protects new and unique inventions, processes, methods, and designs.

Utility patents protect the functional aspects of an invention or how an invention works and how it's used. Design patents, on the other hand, protect the ornamental aspects of an invention or the appearance of an invention.

Obtaining either a utility patent or design patent allows an inventor to legally stop others from using, making, and selling the patented invention in the United States for a limited period of time.

To obtain either a utility patent or a design patent, an inventor must have an invention that has:

  • Patentable subject matter
  • Novelty (New)
  • Nonobvious
  • Useful

Patentable Subject Matter

To obtain a patent, your invention must be the type of intellectual property that patent law protects. Patent law protects new and unique inventions, machines, processes, compositions of matters, articles of manufacture, and designs. We will discuss what utility patents and design patents protect below.

Novelty

The novelty requirement requires an invention to be new. That is, an inventor must have an invention that is different from anything else that has ever been patented before and the invention must not have been publicly disclosed nor offered it for sale more than 12 months prior to filing a patent application with the patent office.

Nonobviousness

To get a patent, an inventor must show that his invention is sufficiently different from anything that's out there so that an ordinary person skilled in the field of the invention would not believe the invention to be obvious at the time an inventor files his patent application.

If your invention is not sufficiently different, the patent office may reject your patent application for being obvious. Making small changes to existing inventions is unlikely to make your invention nonobvious.

Usefulness

The last requirement an inventor has to satisfy to get a patent is showing that the invention to be patented serves some useful purpose. Many inventors include a statement in their patent application that explicitly states the purpose of the invention. However, such a statement is not always required such as where the utility or usefulness of an invention is apparent.

Patent applications are rarely rejected on the grounds that the invention described therein is not useful.

An inventor needs to show that his invention provides the public with some identifiable benefit. For example, a new type of plastic beverage that composes more quickly, helping the environment, is enough utility to satisfy the usefulness requirement.

2) What Type of Patent Do You Need?

Utility Patents

Utility patents protect new and unique inventions, machines, processes, compositions of matter, and articles of manufacture. Said differently, utility patents protect machines, processes for making something, compositions of matter such as chemical formulations, and articles of manufacture or products that have uniquely been assembled.

Examples of things utility patents protect:

  • Computer hardware
  • Machines (something with moving parts such as an engine)
  • Process for making a product
  • Computer software
  • Compositions of matter (Pharmaceuticals, supplements)
  • Articles of manufacture (nail clippers, a new type of mop)

Utility patents are the most applied for patents, making up more than 92% of all applied for patents at the USPTO. Utility patents offer strong and broad protection over an invention.

Design Patents

Design patents protect new and unique designs. Said differently, design patents protect the ornamental or aesthetic aspects of an item. They protect the appearance of an invention.

Design patents are therefore different from utility patents, which protect the functional aspects of an invention and how it works.

Examples of things design patents protect

  • iPhone design
  • Lawnmower design
  • Purse design
  • Packaging design for a product
  • Jewelry design

It's good to have a design patent over an invention, but design patents are not as strong as utility patents. Utility patents offer the strongest protection because they protect how an invention works. So, even if your competitor changes the appearance of a competing invention, if it works the same way, a utility patent holder will be able to stop his competitors from using, making, and selling the patented invention.

Obtaining both utility and design patents

Some inventions qualify for both a utility patent, as well as a design patent. The utility patent protects the functional aspects of the invention, such as how it works and how it's used and the design patent would protect the appearance of the invention or how it looks.

That said, to obtain both utility and design patent protection, an inventor needs to file a utility patent application and a separate design patent application. Filing a single application for both types of protection does not exist. Each must be applied for separately.

3) Keep Your Invention Secret

The USPTO requires inventions to be novel. The novelty requirement means that the invention must not have been publically disclosed or offered for sale prior to filing a patent application with the patent office.

The patent office offers a 12 month grace period to inventors who have publically disclosed their invention. That is, an inventor has 12 months to file a patent application with the patent office from the date he publically discloses his invention.

So, it's best practice not to disclose your invention at all prior to filing your patent application with the patent office.

Additionally, if you're planning on patenting your invention in other countries, you may want to keep your invention 100% secret and not publically disclose it because some countries require absolute novelty, meaning that no disclosure has ever been made.

So, keep your invention secret prior to filing a patent application.

4) Performing a Prior Art Search

Getting a patent on your invention requires an inventor to have a novel invention, this means having an invention that is completely different from any invention that has been patented in the US, as well as being different from anything that has been publicly disclosed.

To determine that an invention is different from anything that's been patented, an inventor needs to perform a search of the USPTO database to ensure that no one else has ever patented the same invention.

Also, an applicant must perform a public search to determine that no one has publicly disclosed the invention the inventor is seeking to patent.

Performing a successful and competent prior art or patent search is an art. As such, having the experience to know where to search, as well as when to stop searching is a must to perform a successful prior art search.

Attorney performing a patent search typically start searching broad topics that relate to the invention and proceed to make their search narrower by using more restrictive keywords.

At the end of a patent or prior art search, an applicant should have a good idea of where his invention stands in terms of other similar inventions.

5) Preparing a Patent Application

When preparing a patent application, these are some of the important sections that you'll have to include in your application.

A. Title of the Invention

A title for your invention is one of the first things you'll encounter as you begin to prepare a patent application. The title should be as short and as specific as possible while accurately describing the invention to be patented. The title should also be fewer than 500 characters.

B. Cross Referencing Related Patent Applications

If an inventor has filed a provisional patent application before filing a (regular) non-provisional patent application and the inventor applicant wants to benefit from the earlier filing date of the provisional application, an applicant must cross-reference the application in the nonprovisional patent application.

The section that cross-references related patent application comes right after the title of the invention.

Cross-referencing a previously filed provisional patent application can be done by including the following text:

"This application claims the benefit of US Provisional Patent Application No. ##/123,456, filed on January 1st, 2020."

According to the USPTO, an applicant may cross-reference his patent application to other applications whenever appropriate. Several cross-references may be made.

C. Statements Regarding Federally Sponsored R&D

If the federal government has sponsored the research and development of an invention, the patent application should include a statement that states what interest, if any, the government has in the invention. Also, the patent application should include the name of the US Government Agency that sponsored the research and development of the invention, as well as the contract number, if any.

D. Background of the Invention

This section should include a description of the class to which the invention relates. For example, if you've invented a new type of Jar, you should state that your invention falls in class 215 of "Bottles and Jars."

An applicant should also give a brief explanation of the problems that prior art has not solved and how the applicant's invention solves those problems. An applicant should include specific references to prior art and how his invention is different from such art.

This section should be short and to the point.

E. Brief Summary of the Invention

The summary of the invention should contain a few sentences that describe the essence of the invention, how the invention works, as well as the purpose for which the invention was created.

The brief summary of the invention should let the patent examiner, as well as the public, know what the invention is about and how it works as briefly as possible.

The Summary should be consistent with what the applicant is claiming as the invention in his patent application.

The applicant should use easy to understand and clear terms to explain the invention. An applicant should avoid using hard to understand terms, as well as legal jargon.

F. Brief Description of the Invention Drawings

You should include a brief description of each of the invention drawings that you've included in your patent application.

For example:

Fig. 1A shows a side view of ________________
Fig. 2B shows a top view of _______________

G. Detailed Description of the Invention

To get a patent, an applicant must include a detailed description of the invention. This description should include how to make the invention, as well as how to use the invention. The description should be made in clear and concise terms.

The invention should be described in as many details so as to allow an ordinary person skilled in the field of the invention to be able to understand how to make the invention, as well as how to use it.

If after reading the detailed description an ordinary person skilled in the field of the invention does not know how to make it and use it without much experimentation, your description is not sufficient and the patent examiner may reject your application, requiring the applicant to amend this section of the application.

H. Add Patent Claims

The claims section is where the inventor sets forth what parts of the invention he wants to protect with the patent. Patent claims set the scope of protection offered to the patent holder. Since claims are the most important part of a patent application, special attention should be given to them.

An inventor can make several patent claims in a utility patent application. However, if you're applying for a design you can only claim one design per design patent application.

In a utility patent application, claims should start with the broadest independent claim possible, followed by other dependent claims that limit the broadest independent claims.

I. Abstract of the Disclosure

The abstract of the disclosure serves as a quick section that both the USPTO and the public can use to get a quick idea about the invention. The abstract should enable anyone who reads it to understand what's new about the invention. It should not be more than 150 words and is usually limited to one paragraph.

J. Invention Drawings

Invention drawings should be included in every patent application where the drawings are necessary for the patent examiner and the public to understand the invention. Drawings fill in the gaps that are left by the text describing the invention.

Invention drawings must be submitted at the time an applicant files his patent application. Adding drawings later is not permitted because the addition of new matter after the filing of a patent application is prohibited by the USPTO.

K. Oath or Declaration

The Oath or Declaration Form must be filed with every patent application. In the Oath or Declaration form, the inventor must declare that he believes that he is the original inventor of the invention claimed in the patent application.

The inventor must also declare that he made or authorized the patent application to be filed with the USPTO. The Oath or Declaration must be made for both utility and design patent applications.

6) Filing a Patent Application

Once an inventor prepares his patent application, he has the option to either file a paper application or an electronic application. Filing an application electronically or online is the quickest and cheapest way to file a patent application with the USPTO. When submitting your application online, you must also pay the patenting fees to the patent office.

7) Keeping Track of Your Patent Application

Once you've submitted a patent application to the USPTO, it's a good idea to track the status of your patent application using PAIR. Pair allows applicants to securely track the status of their patent application online.

It's necessary to periodically check the status of your patent application to ensure that the USPTO has everything that they need to promptly process your patent application.

The patent office often requires changes and/or amendments to be made to a patent application and they often require those changes to be made within a certain timeframe.

As such, it is very important that an inventor promptly replies to such requests to ensure that his patent application is not delayed or abandoned due to not responding on time.

Filing a Provisional Patent Application

Some inventors choose to file a provisional patent application in lieu of filing a regular nonprovisional utility patent application to obtain an early filing date with the patent office.

Obtaining an early filing date for your invention is very important in the US because of the first to file rule that awards a patent to the person who first files a patent application for an invention.

Provisional patent applications are only available for utility patents and are not available for design patents.

Provisional patent applications are often filed because applicants don't have to comply with many of the requirements of a regular utility patent application. Provisional applications are also much less expensive to file than nonprovisional application yet they still reserve an early filing date for your invention.

Patent Rebel Note: You should note that provisional patent applications only last for 12 months. To obtain a patent, an inventor must file a nonprovisional patent application with 12 months of filing his provisional patent application. If an inventor does not file a nonprovisional patent application that claims the early filing date of a previously filed provisional application, the early filing date is lost.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Patent?

Patents can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000+, depending on the complexity of your invention and the attorney's fees you pay to a lawyer to prepare and file your patent application with the USPTO.

If you want to obtain a utility patent over your invention, you should expect to pay anywhere between $5,000 to $15,000+ to obtain a utility patent. The cost depends on the type of invention you're seeking to protect, as well as the complexity of the invention. The more complex the invention, the more you'll have to pay an attorney to prepare your patent application.

Design patents, on the other hand, typically cost anywhere from $2,500 to $3,500, which is much less than utility patents. The reason why design patents cost less is because they can only contain one invention claim (one design claim). As such, they require less work on behalf of your attorney to prepare and therefore cost less.

Can You Get a Patent on Your Own?

Yes, an inventor has the option to file a patent on his own. In fact, the patent office offers inventors who choose to prepare and file their patent application on their own, assistance with doing so.

That said, both the USPTO and Patent Rebel recommend that inventors who do not have experience patenting their own inventions to hire an attorney to assist them with the preparation and filing of their patent application.

This is so because US patent law is complex and making a mistake could cost you a patent on your invention. There are simply too many requirements and rules that an inventor has to comply with when preparing and filing a patent application. As such, it makes sense to hire an attorney to assist inventors with the patenting process.

So, if you were wondering whether you need an attorney to patent your invention, the short answer is no, you don't need one, but hiring one can make your life much easier and means that you'll get the best patent protection possible.

If you can't afford an attorney, you should consider hiring a patent agent to assist you with patenting your invention. Patent agents are qualified and licensed by the USPTO to assist inventors with all steps of patenting an invention.

Patent agents can assist you with performing a prior art search, preparing your patent application, filing it with the patent office, prosecuting it, and communicating with the patent office on your behalf.

Patent agents tend to charge less than patent attorneys because they have not attended law school, but they are more than qualified to assist you with patenting your invention and dealing with the patent office on your behalf.

Why Should You Get a Patent?

You should get a patent because patents allow patent holders to control who uses, makes, sells, offers to sell, and imports the patented invention to the United States.

No one in the United States can make, use, or sell a patented invention without first having to obtain the patent holder's permission.

This allows a patent holder to control who competes with him. This is especially true if the patent holder's patented invention is the only invention that solves a particular problem or works a certain way.

Utility patents allow patent holders to stop others from making inventions that work or function the same way as the patent holder's invention.

Also, if you have a new and unique design that sets your invention or product apart from others, you can protect the design of your product by also applying for and obtaining a design patent.

Design patents protect the appearance of your product and should obtain one if the appearance of your product is something that your customers look at and like about your product.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Patent?

According to the USPTO, it currently takes 24 months to obtain a utility patent and 20 months to obtain a design patent. The period of time it takes to get a patent is measured from the time you file a utility or design patent application with the patent office.

Patent Rebel Tip: If you want to patent your invention as quickly as possible, the USPTO does offer services that allow inventors to expedite the patenting process. For utility patents, you should consider using Track One. To qualify for Track One to expedite your utility patent, you need to apply for the program and pay an additional fee to expedite your application.

Also, you can expedite a design patent application using Rocket Docket, which allows inventors to expedite their design patent application by paying an additional fee and filing a request to expedite the application. Track one promises to make a decision on your utility patent application within 12 months. Rocket Docket promises to make a decision on your patent application within 12 months, as well. However, there are numerous reports that show inventors who were able to patent their invention within less than 6 months.

How to Get a Patent on Your Invention

At this point, you should know the following:

  • What patents protect
  • The type of patent you need for your specific invention
  • The process for searching prior art
  • The steps involved in preparing your patent application
  • How much patenting an invention costs
  • How long it takes to patent your invention

We hope this article did a great job assisting you with patenting your invention. Please note that this article is meant to offer general legal information. Patent Rebel is not your attorney, so if you need any legal advice for your specific situation, you should contact an experienced patent attorney in your jurisdiction to assist you.

That said, if you have any general questions or comments on getting a patent on your own, please feel free to leave a message in the comments section below.


How to patent a name

How to Patent a Name?

If you have a name that you want to patent, we are sorry to tell you that you cannot patent a name. However, you are able to trademark a name by filing a trademark application with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). Registering a name or mark with the USPTO is straightforward and we will show you how you can register your name/mark with the trademark office in the United States.

How to Patent a Name?

So, now you know that you cannot patent a name, you should know that you can protect it by registering as a trademark. You can register it as a trademark by filing a trademark application with the trademark office.

You can register a name as a trademark by following these steps:

  • Heading over to USPTO.gov
  • Performing a trademark search at USPTO Trademark Search to make sure the name you want to register is not already registered as a trademark
  • If the name you want to trademark is not registered, you can prepare your trademark application at USPTO Trademark Application

The trademark application should not take you more than 45 minutes to prepare and submit. Many people will be able to prepare the application and submit it on their own, however, if there is something that you don't understand, you should contact an attorney to assist you with the preparation and filing of your trademark application.

Patent Rebel Note: If the trademark that you want to register is already registered by someone else, the trademark office may reject your trademark application on the grounds that the registration of your mark will cause confusion with the already registered mark.

Requirements to Register a Name as a Trademark

To register a name as a trademark, an applicant must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Provide information, such as the name of the applicant and owner of the name that he wants to register as a trademark,
  • Provide the name of the individual or entity that owns the name to be registered as a trademark,
  • Demonstrate that the owner of the name actually uses the name in connection with the sale of goods, products, or services,
  • Demonstrate that the name to be registered is distinctive, meaning that consumers recognize the name as referring to you or your business as the source of goods, products, or services,
  • Provide a description of the goods or services that you're using the name to refer to. For example, if you're using the name on software, provide a description of the software for which you're using the name,
  • Submit a specimen of the name or trademark you want to register,
  • Provide the date on which you first commercially used the name as a trademark

Once you've compiled the information that you need for your application, you should prepare your application, file it with the USPTO, and pay the applicable filing fees directly to the USPTO.

Why Should You Trademark a Name?

1) Exclusive Use

You should trademark a name that you're using to market goods or services because registering it allows you to be the exclusive person or business to use the trademark in connection with the offering of goods or services to the public.

Said differently, you will be the only one who can use the trademark on products or services that you're offering to the public.

If anyone else uses the trademark on competing goods or services that confuses consumers, you will be able to file a lawsuit against them for trademark infringement to stop their infringing use of your trademark.

2) Deters Misuse

Registering your trademark with the trademark office warns others not to misuse your trademark by showing them that you've taken legal steps to legally protect your trademark.

The public will know that you've registered your trademark from the registered logo ® that must be placed on your trademark. Also, they can check by heading over to the USPTO website and performing an easy trademark search.

Since the public will know that you've registered your trademark, they will be less likely to misuse your trademark because they know that you've taken the necessary legal steps to protect it.

3) Ability to Bring Lawsuit

Although registering a trademark reduces the possibility that someone will misuse your trademark, it does not eliminate the risk entirely. That said, if a party does misuse your trademark in a way that confuses consumers as to the source of goods or services, you do have the ability to bring a lawsuit against the bad actor in Federal District Court for trademark infringement.

4) Nationwide Protection of Your Trademark

If you don't register your trademark with the USPTO, your trademark will only be protected in the state in which your using your trademark. For example, if you're using the name "Patent Rebel" for offering patent services in California, you're only protected in California."

Registering your trademark at the USPTO offers nationwide protection of your trademark. Going back to our previous example, if you're using the mark "Patent Rebel" on patent services in California, you will still be covered across all states in the United States even though you're not offering your services in those states.

This means, that if you intend on expanding offering services outside your state, registering your trademark means that your name or trademark is protected in all states.

5) Proof of Owning Your Trademark

Registering your trademark with the USPTO acts as prima facie evidence that you are the owner of your trademark. If you want to prove ownership of your trademark without federal registration, you will have to show that you've used the name or trademark in commerce on your goods or services (things become more difficult without federal registration).

This becomes very important if you bring a lawsuit against someone who is infringing upon your trademark. To prove ownership of your mark, you can simply submit proof of your registration and you've established prima facie evidence of registration. It is then up to the opposing party to prove evidence to the contrary.

How Much Does it Cost to Patent a Name?

According to the USPTO, to register a trademark, you should expect to pay between $225 to $400 per class of goods. So, how many classes of goods do you have to pay for?

The number of classes you have to pay for depends on how many different categories of products or services you want to register your trademark for.

For example, if you want to use your trademark on mugs and pens, you may need to pay for two classes of goods because they are different categories. So, the fee you will pay depends on how many classes of goods you want to register your trademark for.

If you prepare and file your trademark registration application by using the USPTO website, you will only need to pay the fees we mentioned above.

However, if you use a third-party service to assist you with the preparation and filing of your trademark application, you will need to pay additional fees for the use of such service.

Should You Patent or Trademark a Name?

You cannot patent a name because patent law only protects new inventions, machines, processes, and designs. Patent law does not protect names that an individual uses to identify the source of goods or services.

So, you can only protect a name that you're using as a brand by registering it as a trademark with the USPTO.

How Do You Check if a Name is Trademarked?

You can check if a name is trademarked by heading over to the USPTO Trademark Checker Tool. This tool allows you to enter the name or trademark that you want to register and checks the trademark database for any similar results.

If your search returns any similar registered trademarks for the same class of goods or services that you want to use the trademark for, you should try to find a different name or trademark for your product or service.

If the search does not turn up any exact results, you should still make sure that your trademark is different enough than anything that's registered to avoid trademark infringement.

What is the Difference Between a Trademark and a Patent?

A trademark is meant to protect words, logos, or symbols that a person uses to identify himself or his business as the source of goods or services.

Said differently, if you have a brand name or logo that you use on your products or services so that the public would recognize them as yours, you have a trademark on your hands.

The best way to protect a trademark is to register it with the USPTO as a trademark. Registration is not prohibitively expensive and it does have its benefits.

Patents, on the other hand, protect new and unique inventions, such as machines, compositions of matter, articles of manufacture, and designs.

Patenting an invention involves disclosing exactly how to make an invention to the public and in return for making such a disclosure, a patent holder is awarded a limited-time monopoly over his invention.

Where trademarks have the potential to last forever, patents only last for 15 to 20 years, depending on the type of patent that you opt for.

Patent Rebel Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1) Can anyone trademark a name?

Anyone who uses a name or a mark to identify himself or his business as the source of a product, good or service will be able to register his name or mark as a trademark with the trademark office so long as no one else has already registered the same mark or a confusingly similar mark to the one that you want to register. You can check to see if anyone has registered the mark that you want to register by performing a trademark database search at the USPTO website.

2) Can you use a name that is trademarked?

You can use a name that is trademarked so long as the class of goods for which you're registering your trademark is so different than the registered mark that you using it on your goods or services will not confuse the public as to the source of goods or services.

That said, it's best to avoid using a registered trademark to avoid any legal trouble down the road. This is so because if the trademark owner feels that your mark is too similar to theirs, they might sue you for trademark infringement. As such, it's best to use a mark that is not registered.

3) Can you patent a name for free?

At this point, you should know that you cannot patent a name, instead, you can register it as a trademark with the trademark office. Unfortunately, you cannot register a trademark for free. The USPTO does charge a fee that ranges from $225 to $400 to register a single trademark.

4) Can two people register the same name?

Two people can register or trademark the same name so long as that the second person registering the mark is registering it for a totally different class of goods or services that will not confuse the public as to the source of goods or services. For example, someone has registered the trademark rebel for patent services and you want to register the trademark rebel for music equipment, you probably will have success registering your mark because the two categories are so different that your registering of the mark is unlikely to confuse consumers as to the source of goods or services.


trade secret vs patent

Trade Secret vs Patent Protection

When persons or businesses have intellectual property (IP) that they want to protect, they often look for the appropriate type of IP protection. If IP is at the heart of your business, you should take the time to understand whether your IP is protectable under trade secret law or patent law. We will explain the difference between protecting your IP with trade secrets vs patents, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of choosing either of them.

Trade Secret vs Patent Protection

Trade secret law protects information that a business keeps confidential, is not publicly known, and gives a business a competitive edge. Patents, on the other hand, can be used to protect the functional aspects of an invention, such as how it works and how it's used and also the appearance of an invention.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets protect information that is kept confidential by a business, is not known publicly, and gives the business a competitive advantage.

The beauty of trade secrets is that they can potentially last forever. So long as the information is kept secret and reasonable measures are taken to keep the info secret, trade secret protection will continue to apply.

Somethings that can be protected as a trade secret include:

  • Manufacturing process
  • Formula
  • Customer lists
  • Techniques to manufacture an object
  • Recipes, such as the one for the Coco-Cola soft drink
  • Names of suppliers

For some companies, the trade secrets that they have are super important to their success, as such, they take great lengths to protect their trade secrets by keeping them confidential and pursuing legal action against those who misappropriate them or try to make them public.

The more the competitive edge a trade secret gives a business over its competitors, the more protection a trade secret holder will be given under trade secret law.

That said, to benefit from trade secret law, an individual or business must show that it took reasonable steps to keep the information it wants to be protected as a trade secret confidential.

Patents

Patents, on the other hand, offer protection to inventors who are granted a patent over their invention, machines, process, or design. Patents allow inventors to stop others from using, making, selling, and importing the patented invention to the United States for a limited period of time.

Utility patents last for 20 years from the date an individual files a patent application with the patent office. Design patents last for 15 years from the date the patent office grants a design patent application.

Some things that can be protected by patents:

  • Machine
  • Process
  • Design
  • Composition of Matter
  • Formula
  • Article of Manufacture
  • Software

That said, to obtain a patent, an individual must disclose everything there is to know about the invention, including how to make the invention, how the invention works, and how the invention is used by the end-user.

So, if you have an invention that you want to keep secret, it may be worth it to keep your invention secret and protected under trade secret law. Also, since patenting an invention means publicly disclosing your invention.

So, when patenting an invention, you should consider the fact that when your patent does expire, the public will be able to make, use, and sell your once patented invention without having to obtain your permission.

That said, if an individual has an invention that he has been protecting as a trade secret and has also sold commercially, he must file a patent application to protect that invention within 12 months of first offering the invention or product for sale.

If an individual does not file a patent application with the patent office within 12 months of selling, offering to sell, or publicly disclosing the invention, the individual will be denied patent protection.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Trade Secret Protection vs Patent Protection

Assuming that the intellectual property you own can be protected by both a trade secret and a patent, which form of IP protection should you choose?

Length of Protection

The most important advantage that trade secret protection offers over patent protection is that trade secrets have the potential to last forever, whereas utility patents last for only 20 years from the filing date of a patent application.

So, if you have IP that qualifies for both forms of protection and you want indefinite protection, you may want to consider protecting your IP under trade secret law vs patent law.

That said, you have to remember that trade secrets last for as long as you keep them secret and place reasonable protections in place to avoid having your trade secret becoming public.

Cost to Maintain

If you've patented an invention using a utility patent, then you know that not only are you responsible for the costs associated with preparing and filing a patent application but also for the cost of maintaining a utility patent.

To keep a patent active and to continue to enjoy patent rights, an inventor must pay periodic mandatory fees known as maintenance fees. Maintenance fees range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on the size of the patent holder's business.

The advantage that trade secret protection has over patent law is that trade secrets do not carry any maintenance fees. You only have to worry about the fees associated with keeping your trade secret, secret.

Disclosure of Sensitive Information

If you want to patent your invention, you must disclose everything there is to know about your invention, including how to make your invention and how to use it.

Once your patent expires, the public can make, use, and sell your once patented invention without having to obtain your express permission. Since you've disclosed how to make your invention and how to use it, the public will have the blueprints on exactly how to recreate your invention.

So, this is something to keep in mind.

If you have an invention or a special way of manufacturing something, you may want to explore protecting it as a trade secret if you don't want your competitor's figuring out exactly how to replicate your invention or process.

Amount of Information Protected

If you have an invention that incorporates several different inventions, it might be extremely costly to file a patent application for each and every separate invention.

So, if you want to protect a machine or process that involves more than one invention, you should consider protecting your IP using trade secret law because a trade secret can protect a lot more information than a single patent application can ever offer to protect.

Speed to Obtain Protection

The patent office currently has over 550,000 pending patent applications, so to say the least, it takes a long time to patent your invention and gain patent law protection.

The USPTO currently estimates that it takes 24 months to obtain a utility patent for an invention.

On the other hand, trade secret law is immediate and takes only as long as it takes you to put reasonable measures in place to keep your intellectual property secret.

That said, the USPTO does offer a service known as Track One to expedite your application. Track One promises to give an applicant a decision on his patent application within 12 months.

Although the service promises a decision within 12 months, many applicants have been able to patent their invention using Track One within less than 6 months.

Reverse Engineering

This is where patent protection is superior to trade secret protection. If you have a product that you're offering to the public, you may want to patent it instead of protecting it with a trade secret and we will tell you why.

A utility patent protects how to make your invention, as well as how to use it. As such, even if a third party attempts to reverse engineer your product and make a competing product if the two products look different but function the same way, a patent holder will be able to stop them from using, making, and selling the patented product.

If you rely solely on trade secret law to protect your product, you won't have any protection if a third party reverse engineers your product and sells a competing product.

Today, there are many tools that are readily available that can reverse engineer products, such as soft drinks and cosmetics.

Also, if you're offering a product that includes electronics, electronics can easily be reverse-engineered because circuits are easy to reproduce.

So, you should weigh the option of patenting your invention against relying on trade secret law to protect it.

Losing Trade Secret Protection

A trade secret is only valuable as long as you protect. If someone legally or illegally discloses your trade secret, you may be able to take action against the individual who misappropriated it, but if it becomes public, it's no longer a trade secret.

If it's publicly available, trade secret law won't protect you from anyone else who uses the trade secret to make a competing product using the information that was once protected.

As such, patent law may offer better protection because the information is publicly disclosed and yet the patent holder has the right to restrict the public from using, making, selling, offering to sell, and importing the patented invention to the United States.

However, patents only offer protection in the country that issued the patent. So, if you obtain a patent in the United States, you will only be allowed to restrict others from using and selling your invention in the US.

If you want protection in other countries, such as China, you will have to obtain a patent over there, as well.

Patent Rebel Frequently Asked Questions

1) Can you patent a trade secret?

You can patent a trade secret if the trade secret involves intellectual property that patent law protects, such as invention or a process, and if you haven't publicly disclosed or offered a product that incorporates the trade secret within more than 12 months of filing a patent application with the USPTO. If you're curious about whether you can patent your trade secret, you should contact a patent attorney, talk to them about your specific situation, and they should be able to offer you the best advice on how to proceed.

2) What is Trade Secret Protection?

Trade secret protection is nonformal type of protection that does not need to be applied for. Anything that gives you a competitive advantage that you keep secret and take reasonable steps to protect can be protected as a trade secret.

3) What is an example of a trade secret?

The best example of a trade secret is the Coca Cola beverage formula. Coca Cola never patented the formula for what is arguably the most popular beverage known to man. Instead, Coca Cola protects its formula and process for manufacturing the iconic drink as a trade secret.

4) How long can a trade secret be protected?

Trade secret protection can potentially last forever, so long as no one discloses the trade secret (legally or illegally) and the reasonable measures are put into place to protect the secret information.

5) How long can patent protection last?

Utility patent last for 20 years from the date an applicant files a utility patent application with the patent office. Design patents last for 15 years from the date the patent office grants a design patent application. That said, once a patent expires, the invention falls into the public domain. Once it falls into the public domain, anyone can make, sell, use, and import the patented invention to the US without having to obtain the patent holder's permission. Moreover, the patent document at the patent office serves as a good blueprint on how to make and use the patented invention, so that the public can make it and improve upon it.

What is the Difference Between a Patent and a Trade Secret?

(Patent vs Trade Secret)

At this point, you should know the difference between a patent and a trade secret. While patents must be applied for to obtain protection, trade secrets do not need to be applied for. We covered the advantages of patent vs trade secrets. If you have IP that you want to protect, you should contact an experienced intellectual property attorney to assess your situation. Every situation is different and only your attorney will be able to help you determine the appropriate IP protection for your specific situation.


patent trolls

Patent Trolls. What? How? and Why?

What Are Patent Trolls?

Patent trolls come in many different shapes and forms. Patent trolls are typically private persons or businesses that purchase patents and then seek to profit from their patent purchase by bringing patent infringement lawsuits against businesses or companies, often alleging that they are making unauthorized use of the patents they acquired. Patent trolls can bring down small companies because patent lawsuits are very expensive to defend against.

Patent trolls often purchase patents from struggling businesses or businesses that are going bankrupt so that they can take the patents an enforce the patents against other companies that produce products that they claim infringe upon their patent rights.

As you may know, patents allow the patent holder to stop others from using, making, selling, and importing the patented invention to the United States without the patent holder's permission.

Patent trolls take advantage of these patent rights by enforcing them against others who they claim infringe upon their patent rights.

Patent trolls usually have no intention of using, making, or selling the patented invention and purchase patent rights solely to enforce them against other companies to profit from such enforcement.

Patent trolls profit from the patents they purchase by targetting companies and asking them to pay a one time fee or recurring licensing fees to use the patented invention or technology.

Patent trolls' actions are usually legal in nature, but they are contrary to the spirit of patent law, which grants patents to inventors who make new products that improve our daily lives and not for the purpose of only enforcing patent rights against businesses.

Patent trolls are most prevalent in the United States. Other countries, such as those in Europe do not suffer as much as Americans do from patent trolls.

This is mainly due to the fact that the European system often awards attorneys fees to the party that loses a lawsuit, discouraging those who do not have valid patent claims from bringing a lawsuit for patent infringement.

In the United States, every party typically pays its own attorney fees. Since patent trolls don't have to worry about paying the other party's attorneys fees to defend against the patent troll's patent infringement lawsuit, patent trolls don't have the incentive not to bring a lawsuit against other persons or entities.

How do Patent Trolls Operate?

Patent trolls typically operate in the following ways:

  1. Purchasing patents from struggling businesses, businesses going bankrupt, or other targets,

  2. Patent trolls then find targets that are using, making, or selling a product that they claim infringes upon their purchased patent,

  3. Patent trolls then threaten those companies with patent infringement lawsuits to extract money from them.

So, why are patent trolls often successful in operating this way?

Patent trolls are often successful because patent infringement lawsuits typically cost a lot of money. Defending against a lawsuit can cost tens of thousands of dollars, so in order to avoid costly litigation, parties often agree to pay the patent troll a fee to settle the matter. This is exactly how patent trolls flourish.

Patent trolls often purchase patent rights without the intention of producing or selling a patent product, but rather to enforce the patent rights they acquired by targetting business that they claim infringe upon the patents they purchased.

Patent trolls strategically choose businesses that are vulnerable and don't have the money to defend against a patent infringement lawsuit in order to get them to settle and pay a licensing fee to use the patent troll's patented invention instead of the innocent business having to defend against a patent infringement lawsuit.

Some patent trolls have a reasonable basis for bringing a patent infringement lawsuit while other patent trolls often bring frivolous lawsuits against businesses to extract money from them.

These actions are against the spirit of why patent law was implemented, which is to foster innovation and encourage inventors to make new things in exchange for a limited monopoly over their invention.

Who Do Patent Trolls Target?

Patent trolls choose their targets carefully to increase their chances of success, as such patent trolls often target the following:

  1. Small businesses that cannot afford to defend against a patent infringement lawsuit,

  2. Inventors who have patent portfolios full of patents that they have not commercialized, and

  3. Businesses that are going through bankruptcy and need to sell off assets that include patents

Patent trolls often target small businesses and begin their trolling activities by identifying a patent in their portfolio that they claim the target business infringes upon.

Once they've targeted a business, they send the target business a demand letter that contains a lot of threatening legal language that the target business has allegedly committed patent infringement.

More often than not, these threatening letters scare small business owners into settling the lawsuit to avoid the enormous costs associated with defending a patent infringement lawsuit.

In the United States, the average cost to defend a patent infringement lawsuit can exceed $3 million. For some business, it's just not feasible to spend this much money to defend a lawsuit. As such, small businesses choose to settle instead of fighting.

That said, it's often not wise to settle with a patent troll because patent trolls may see this as a sign of weakness and continue to target the business that settled with them with other patent infringement claims.

So, if you're a business with various patents or technologies, it may be wise to contact an experienced patent attorney and ask them about how you should handle the patent troll at hand. Your attorney is best suited to assist you because each situation is different.

Are Patent Trolls Illegal?

When you hear the term patent troll, you may be inclined to believe that they operate illegally, however, the truth is that many patent trolls operate legally. So long as a patent troll does not make a claim in bad faith, his actions are legal because they are based on patent law.

Patent law protects patent holders from others who use, make, sell, or import the patent invention to the United States without the patent holder's permission.

So, as long as a patent troll has reasonable ground on which to base his claims, there is nothing that can be done to stop him from bringing a lawsuit for patent infringement against a party that uses, makes, or sells his patented invention.

As such, patent trolls can legally operate by using patents they purchased to shake down others who are making use of the patented inventions that they purchased to extract money from such persons or businesses.

That said, not all patent trolls operate legally. Some patent trolls work by bringing frivolous lawsuits against businesses in order to extract money from such businesses.

What is a Patent and How Does it Work?

A patent is an intellectual property right that is awarded to an inventor under U.S patent law to those who invent new machines, processes, articles of manufactures, compositions of matter, or designs.

Patents do not last forever, instead, they last for a limited period of time, granting a patent holder a limited-time monopoly over his invention. Utility patents last for 20 years and design patents last for 15 years.

Patents work by allowing a patent holder to restrict others from using, making, selling, and importing the patented invention to the United States for a limited period of time.

It is this right to control who uses, makes, sells, or imports the patented invention that patent trolls want to obtain so that they can enforce these rights against other businesses.

That said, a patent holder can sell and transfer the rights to his patent to others. It is this ability to transfer patent rights that patent trolls love.

Patent trolls purchase patents and patent rights from struggling businesses for the sole purpose of enforcing them against others to extract money from businesses and persons who they claim infringe upon their patent rights.

How Many Lawsuits Have Patent Trolls Filed?

According to RPX Corp., 4500 patent infringement lawsuits were filed in 2014, from the 4500 patent infringement cases that were filed, 2791 cases were filed by NPEs (Non-practicing entities).

Non-practicing entities are entities that hold patents with no intent of actually manufacturing or selling the patented product. Instead, NPEs only purchase patent rights to enforce them against others to make money.

As we mentioned earlier, out of the 4500 patent infringement lawsuits filed in 2014, 2791 were filed by NPEs (commonly known as patent trolls). That makes 63% of patent infringement cases that are filed by patent trolls.

This just goes to show you how much damage patent trolls are doing in the United States. Patent trolls are costing American companies millions of dollars every year.

NPEs, commonly known as patent trolls, are targetting small companies that have less than $100 million in annual revenue. Targetting small businesses is a hallmark of patent trolls because they are choosing businesses that don't have the financial ability to fight back or if they do have the financial ability to fight back, it's going to be so costly that is often not worth it for the business to do so.

If you are the owner of a small business and you receive a letter from a patent troll demanding that you stop producing or selling a product because it allegedly infringes upon a patent, you should immediately contact an experienced patent attorney and ask them about what you should do. Do not waste time and immediately contact your attorney so that he will guide you on how to proceed.

How to Deal with a Patent Troll?

Hiring an Attorney

If you become the victim of a patent troll, the first thing you should do is immediately contact an experienced patent attorney, hire them, and then share any information that was submitted to you by the patent troll.

You should avoid discussing anything related to the patent troll with anyone in your company because the information you share with other employees is not privileged. However, the information you do share with your attorney is often privileged, as such you should immediately speak with the attorney representing your business.

Determining Whether to Settle

Sometimes businesses targetted by patent trolls should consult with their attorney about settling with the patent troll. Settling too quickly or even just settling with patent trolls often causes them to believe the settling business is a soft target. If your business is identified as a soft target, the same patent troll may target you again and other trolls might target you and come knocking at your door.

Determine Whether Your Infringing Upon The Claimed Patent

When you hire an attorney you can ask your attorney to look over the patent that the patent troll claims your product, process, or design infringes upon to determine whether the product you're making, using or selling does in fact infringe upon the patent troll's patent.

Performing an in-depth search to make this determination will assist you in negotiating with the patent troll because it shows them that you're taking steps to determine whether they're claims are valid and that you're ready to fight them.

Patent Rebel Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1) Why do patent trolls do what they do?

Patent trolls do what they do because they want to make money. Patent trolls want to make money by using the threat of legal action to extract payment from businesses that are not very powerful. This is why many patent trolls target businesses with relatively low annual income because they know they are less likely to have the resources to fight back.

2) Are patent trolls illegal in the US?

Patent trolls try to operate legally. In some circumstances, if patent trolls make reasonable patent infringement claims, they are operating legally. However, if patent trolls make patent claims that they don't have reasonable grounds to believe are true, then their actions become frivolous and their conduct becomes illegal. So, as long as a patent troll has reasonable clouds to believe that he can win based upon the claims he makes, his conduct is legal and he can continue to target businesses that he claims infringe upon his patent.

3) What do patent trolls do?

Patent trolls purchase patents that they have no intention of using, making, or selling. Instead, they purchase them to enforce them or bring lawsuits against others who they claim infringe upon their newly acquired patent rights. Patent trolls enforce these patents and make demands on businesses to get businesses to pay them money.

4) How to fight patent trolls?

The best chance of success against a patent troll is to hire an experienced patent attorney who can properly assess your specific situation and recommend actions you or your business can take to deal with the patent troll. Upon knowing that you or your business are being targetted by a patent troll, you should immediately contact an experienced patent attorney to lay out a plan of action on how to deal with the patent troll that you have at hand.

5) Why do patent trolls do what they do?

Patent trolls do what they do to extract money from businesses that don't have the financial ability to fight back. Patent trolls choose their victims carefully, often looking at which businesses are most likely to cave into their demands more quickly in order to extract money from them as easily as possible.


what is a patent license agreement

What is a Patent License Agreement?

If you have an invention that you've patented, you might be wondering whether you can license your product or invention for others to use? The short answer is that you can license your invention to others by executing a patent license agreement. So, what exactly is a patent license agreement? We will answer this question below.

What is a Patent License Agreement?

A patent license agreement is a negotiated agreement between a patent holder and a licensee. Once the parties have negotiated the terms of an agreement, the parties enter into a contract where the patent holder (licensor) agrees to allow the licensee to use, make, sell, or import the patented invention to the US in exchange for an agreed-upon fee.

The terms of a patent license agreement will set forward the scope of rights that the patent holder (licensor) is transferring to the party that wants to use the patented invention (licensee). The licensing agreement typically includes the royalty or agreed-upon fee that will be paid by the licensee to the licensor in exchange for use of the patented invention.

If you are an inventor and you want to license your invention to a third party to profit from your patented invention, you should contact an attorney to assist you with drafting your licensing agreement.

Properly drafting a license agreement is very important to avoid disputes down the road. This is so because the patent license agreement sets forth what the licensee can and cannot do with your patented invention.

A patent license agreement is a legally binding contract where both the licensor and licensee have duties that they must perform according to the terms of the patent license agreement.

As such, clearly laying out what is required by each party is very important because not performing any of the agreed-upon terms will result in a breach of contract. Hiring an attorney to remedy a breach of contract is much more costly than hiring an attorney to properly draft a licensing agreement. So, hire an attorney and have the job done right from the getgo.

Since every situation is different and the parties agree to perform different things, patent holders and licensees should not use premade licensing agreements. Instead, the parties should have an attorney draft a patent license agreement that reflects what both parties have agreed to.

Attorneys often approach drafting a licensing agreement by looking at what the parties want to achieve with their patent license agreement and they take clauses from other agreements and modify them to fit what the parties' have agreed to.

How Much Does it Cost to License a Patent?

A well-written licensing agreement tailored to a licensor and Licensee's specific situation requires three to four hours of an attorney's time, costing between $300 to $1,000, depending on how much your attorney charges you.

You can find a standard licensing agreement for $10 to $50, however, we do not recommend using these unless you have experience drafting licensing agreements.

Patent Rebel does not recommend using a standardized licensing agreement because they are not tailored to your specific situation. For a licensing agreement to be effective, it must accurately represent the agreement between the licensor and the licensee.

Premade agreements are often missing important information that may prove to be very important when the time comes for each party to perform its duties under the agreement.

So, we recommend spending the extra money upfront to hire an experienced attorney draft your patent license agreement to avoid costly legal situations down the road.

How Long Does a Patent License Agreement Last?

A patent license agreement lasts for as long as the parties agree for the agreement to last. The terms of a patent license agreements are agreed upon by both parties, the agreement usually spells out the term for how it will last.

So, if you're curious about how long a patent license lasts, all you have to do is look at the terms of the agreement between the licensor and the licensee.

What Terms Should a Patent License Agreement Contain?

We will cover the most important terms that you'll encounter when licensing intellectual property, such as patents. This list is not comprehensive of everything you'll encounter, but you should know they exist.

1. Type of License

When drafting a patent license agreement, a patent holder must first determine what type of license he wants to give to the other party (licensee). There are two main types of patent license agreements: Exclusive license agreement and non-exclusive license agreements.

An exclusive license agreement is one where the patent holder transfers to the licensee the exclusive right to use, make, sell, and import the patented invention to the United States. Said differently, in an exclusive license agreement, the patent holder transfers all rights to make, use, and sell the patented invention to the licensee.

In a non-exclusive license agreement, the patent holder transfers to the licensee the right to use, make, sell, and import the patented invention while the patent holder retains (keeps) the right to use, make, and sell the patented invention.

Said differently, a non-exclusive patent agreement merely allows the licensee permission to use, make, and sell the patented invention. However, with this type of agreement, the patent holder retains the right to license the use of his invention to others.

2. Payment

Make sure that you or your attorney clearly define the terms of payment. Some of the patent holders we've dealt with have sought an upfront payment in addition to a percentage of the profits or sales. However, make sure that you unpack what percentage of profits or sales means.

You need to add enough detail to flesh out what happens in certain situations, such as when the product is offered at a discount. This is where your attorney will focus most of his attention and you should too because many disputes happen over payment details.

3. Set the Duration for your License

You should perform some research before locking yourself for too long in a licensing agreement.

For example, if you grant a company an exclusive licensee to manufacture and sell a pair of nail clippers that you invented in exchange for a royalty, you want to make sure that you don't lock yourself in a contract with that company for too long because if they don't sell well, the amount of money you make will suffer if they don't make enough sales.

You want to set the duration so that if you're not profiting under your current licensing agreement, you can get out of it to seek other, more lucrative agreements.

At the end of the day, every situation is different. So, if you're confused about how long to set the duration of your licensing agreement, you should contact your attorney and consult with them. They have experience and are best suited to assist you.

Can You License a Design Patent?

Absolutely, yes! You can license a design patent the same way a patent holder licenses the use of his utility patent.

If you have a design that you've patented, you can license it to a third party by drafting a patent license agreement where you and the other party layout the terms of your agreement.

The agreement will layout how the licensee can use your design. It will also layout the fee the licensee must pay in exchange for the ability to use, make, and sell your patented design.

How Do You Create a Patent License Agreement?

You can create a patent license agreement by looking at previously written licensing agreements and using the sections from previous agreements that illustrate the parties' agreement.

If you have a patent that you want to license, Patent Rebel recommends that you hire a skilled attorney to draft a patent license agreement for you. Many disputes arise from poorly drafted licensing agreements.

So, to avoid trouble down the road, hire an attorney and have them draft an agreement that accurately and completely reflects what the parties' have agreed to when negotiating their agreement.

Patent Rebel Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1) How do you get a license for intellectual property?

This article covers licensing patents, but the process for licensing other forms of intellectual property is very similar. The parties need to negotiate a licensing agreement before entering into one. Many parties to choose to hire an attorney to represent them not only in drafting the licensing agreement but also in negotiating the terms of the licensing agreement.

Hiring an experienced attorney is the best thing you can do to protect yourself from the other party. Whether you're the licensor or licensee, having an attorney negotiate the terms of a license agreement is the best thing you can do.

Always look at things as if you're in a dispute with the other party because even though you're not planning on getting into a dispute, life happens and so you should have an attorney carefully draft a licensing agreement for you.

2) What are the four types of intellectual property?

The USPTO offers four types of intellectual property protection: patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. You can license the use of any form of intellectual property by executing a licensing agreement that allows a third party to use your IP.

3) What should be included in a licensing agreement?

We have included some of the sections that must be included in every licensing agreement. However, if agreement is different because different parties have different terms that must be included in the agreement. The agreement is made to accommodate what each party wants in exchange from the other party. If you know help drafting a licensing agreement, you should contact an attorney and ask them to draft it for you.

4) What are the types of licensing?

The two main types of licensing that we covered in this article are exclusive licenses and non-exclusive licenses. In an exclusive license, the patent holder transfers all the rights to make, use, and sell the patented invention to the licensee. In a non-exclusive license, the patent holder transfers the right to make, use, and sell the patented invention while the patent holder retains the right to license the patented invention to others.

5) What does licensing your product mean?

Licensing your product usually means that you allow another party to make use of a patent invention, make it, and sell it to others. In exchange for giving the other party the ability to make, use, and sell the invention, a patent holder takes a fee or percentage of the profits for every sale that the licensee makes.


how long is a utility patent good for

How Long is a Utility Patent Good For?

Whether you have an invention or you're just curious about knowing how long a utility patent is good for, you've come to the right place. The USPTO gives inventors of new machines, processes, compositions of matter, or articles of manufacture a monopoly over their invention for a limited period of time. So, how long does a utility patent last? We will answer this question below.

How Long is a Utility Patent Good For in the United States?

According to the USPTO, a utility patent is good for 20 years in the United States from the date an applicant files his utility patent application with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).

During the 20-year patent term, a patent holder will be able to restrict others from using, making, selling, offering to sell, and importing his patented invention to the United States without his express permission.

If you see that someone has an active or granted patent, make sure that you do not use, copy, or sell his invention without his permission. If anyone uses, makes, or sells a patented invention without the patent holder's permission, the patent holder may sue for patent infringement.

Since utility patents are good for 20 years, the patent holder can, during the patent term, sell his invention while having the power to stop others from selling his patented invention, giving the patent holder an advantage in the market.

Once the patent expires after the 20-year patent term is up, the invention falls into the public domain, meaning the invention can be used, made, or sold by anyone without having to obtain the patent holder's permission.

So, now we know a patent lasts for 20 years from the filing date of the earliest patent application, how do you figure out the filing date? We will answer this below.

If you filed a provisional patent application prior to filing a (regular) nonprovisional patent application, your patent term is measured from the filing date of your nonprovisional patent application and the priority date for your invention will be the date you filed your provisional patent application.

On the other hand, if you only filed a (regular) nonprovisional utility patent application, your patent term is measured from the filing date of your nonprovisional utility patent application and your invention priority date is also the date you filed your nonprovisional patent application.

So, why do some inventors choose to file a provisional patent application before filing a full nonprovisional patent application?

Some inventors choose to file a provisional patent application before filing a nonprovisional patent application because provisional applications are much easier and less costly to prepare and file than a full patent application.

Also, a provisional patent application, like a nonprovisional patent application allows an inventor to mark and advertise his product as patent pending. That said, a provisional patent application only lasts for 12 months and does not become a patent, only a nonprovisional application can result in a granted patent.

Within the 12 month period, while a provisional patent application is pending, an inventor must file a nonprovisional patent application that claims the benefit of an earlier-filed provisional patent application to get a patent, as well as benefit from the earlier filing date of the provisional patent.

Why do inventors rush to file a provisional patent application?

Inventors often rush to file a provisional patent application because the United States has a first to file rule that grants a patent to the inventor who first files a patent application for his invention.

For example, if you invent a new type of electric toothbrush first and someone else invents the same electric toothbrush after you do and files a provisional or nonprovisional patent application with the patent office, he will be granted a patent and your application will be rejected even though you invented the toothbrush before he did.

Therefore, it's important that you file a patent application with the patent office as soon as you can describe how to make your invention and how to use it, so that if someone else files a patent application for the same invention, your invention will have priority of theirs and you will get the patent and they will not.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Utility Patent?

According to data from the USPTO, it currently takes 24 months to get a utility patent. The 24 month period it takes to get a utility patent begins at the moment that you file a regular nonprovisional patent application with the USPTO.

If you filed a provisional patent application, the 24 month waiting period does not start until you file your regular nonprovisional patent application with the patent office.

Once you file your nonprovisional application with the patent office, your application is then assigned to an art unit and placed in a queue of patent applications for examination. The entire process normally takes 24 months while the patent office prosecutes your patent application.

Patent Rebel Tip: Many inventors don't know this but you can expedite your application through a service provided by the USPTO. The USPTO has a service called Track One that expedites your patent application. Track One promises to give you a decision on your utility patent application within 12 months of filing a regular nonprovisional patent application. That said, this service is not free and not everyone can use it. To be able to use Track One you have to apply and be accepted to use Track One.

So, if you're in a rush to get your invention patented, you should ask your attorney about Track One to get your utility patent application approved more quickly as Track One will get you a decision within less than 12 months, which is insanely fast for a utility patent.

How Long is a Patent Valid For?

As we've mentioned above, utility patents are valid for 20 years from the date an applicant files a nonprovisional patent application with the patent office.

That said, for a utility patent to remain valid for 20 years, a patent holder must make three required maintenance fees at 3.5 years, 7.5 years, and 11.5 years. Maintenance fees range from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the size of the patent holder's business.

Design patents, on the other hand, are valid for 15 years from the date the patent office grants a design patent application. To keep a design patent valid, maintenance fees are not required as they are only required for utility patents.

What Happens When a Utility Patent Expires?

Once a utility patent expires because the patent term has ended, the once patented invention falls into the public domain.

So, what's does public domain mean?

Public domain means that anyone from the public can use the patented invention without having to obtain the patent holder's permission because the utility patent holder no longer has the right to stop others from using, making, and selling his invention without his permission.

That said, utility patents can expire for a different reason, which is the nonpayment of maintenance fees. If a patent expires for nonpayment of maintenance fees, the patent holder can reinstate the utility patent by paying the outstanding maintenance fees, as well as a late fee. Once the fee is paid, the patent will go back to its grant status.

If a patent holder does not pay the maintenance fees, the patent expires and the patent holder will no longer enjoy a monopoly over his invention.

Patent Rebel Tip: If you have a patent that is going to expire because the patent term has ended, you know that your patent cannot be renewed, but you can definitely improve upon your existing invention and then patent those improvements. This is one way that you could continue to profit from your invention or product.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) How long is a utility patent valid for in the US?

A utility patent is valid for 20 years from the date that the applicant files his regular utility patent application with the patent office. A utility patent can expire because the patent term has ended or the maintenance fees have not been paid. If the patent expired because the patent term has ended, the patent cannot be renewed, however, if the patent expired for nonpayment of maintenance fees, it can be revived by paying the maintenances fees along with a late fee.

2) How do you know when a patent expires?

You can calculate the date a patent expires by looking at the filing date listed at the top of a utility patent. If the patent was filed on or after June 8th, 1995, add 20 years to the filing date and you should be able to find out when it expires. For example, a patent that has a filing date of January 1, 2000, will expire on January 1st, 2020.

3) Can a utility patent last forever?

A utility patent in the US cannot last forever. At most, a utility patent can last for 20 years from the date an applicant files a utility patent application with the patent office. You can sort of extend the life of your patent by patenting improvements to your patented invention and continuing to control who uses your invention as its improved.

4) Can you patent your invention with a utility patent and a design patent?

Yes, you can patent the functional aspects of your invention (how your invention works) by using a utility patent and you can also file a separate design patent application to protect the appearance of your invention (how your invention looks). Having both a utility patent and design patent increases the value of your intellectual property because you can stop others from making not only a similarly working invention but also an invention that functions differently but looks the same.

How Long Are Utility Patents Good For?

At this point, you should know that utility patents are good for 20 years from the date an applicant files a utility patent application with the USPTO. Once the patent office grants a utility patent application, the utility patent holder will be able to restrict who uses, makes, and sells his patented invention. If anyone uses the patent holder's invention without his permission, they may be committing patent infringement. So, now you know how long utility patents are good for. If you have any other general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


are utility patents worth it

Are Utility Patents Worth It?

Utility patents allow inventors of new inventions, machines, processes, articles of manufacture, and compositions of matter to protect them by giving inventors a monopoly over their invention. A utility patent allows the inventor to stop others from using, making, selling, and importing the patented invention to the United States without the patent holder's express permission. This limited period of time lasts for 20 years from the date an inventor files his utility patent application with the USPTO. So, is it worth it to invest your time and money to obtain a utility patent over your invention?

Are Utility Patents Worth It?

Utility patents are worth it if you have an invention or product that you know you can either sell successfully or profit from by licensing the invention to third parties who will pay you an agreed-upon fee in exchange for being able to use your patented invention.

Being able to profit from an invention is very important to most inventors who often spend a ton of their own money and time patenting their invention. If you've every patented an invention, you know that obtaining a utility patent is not cheap and can easily cost $8500+ to patent a simple and straightforward invention.

To obtain a utility patent for an invention, an inventor would have to prepare and file a utility patent application with the USPTO. Preparing a utility patent application is a complex process that should only be done by an experienced patent attorney.

This is so because patent law is quite complex, and complying with the requirements of the patent office requires a trained individual who is familiar with all the rules of the patent office to prepare and file a patent application correctly. Making minor mistakes on a utility patent application could get your application rejected, costing you more time and money to remedy any errors.

Why Are Utility Patents Worth It?

There are many reasons that utility patents are worth it and we will discuss a few of the top reasons why you should obtain a utility patent to protect your invention.

1) Ability to Stop Others From Using and Selling Your Invention

The main reason a utility patent is worth it to inventors is that it allows them restricts who uses, makes, sells, and imports the patented invention to the United States without first obtaining the patent holder's express permission.

By being able to control who uses, makes, and sells his invention, a patent holder is, assuming no barrier exists, able to sells his invention without having to worry about his competitors selling the same invention or patented product without his permission.

In the event that one of the patent holder's competitors does use, make, or sell the patented invention without the patent holder's permission, the patent holder will be able to bring a lawsuit against that competitor for patent infringement.

If the patent holder is successful in his suit, he may be able to obtain an injunction, asking the infringer to stop his infringing activities. In some circumstances, the patent holder may also be able to recover monetary damages that he sustained as a result of the infringing activities.

2) Ability to Sell or Licensee Your Invention

The second reason a utility patent is worth is that it enables the patent holder to sell his invention for a profit. Now, not all inventors patent their inventions to sell them, many inventors choose to license their inventions to others to use and product in exchange for an agreed-upon fee or royalty.

Having a utility patent makes it easier for the patent holder to sell or license his invention because a patent makes clear the scope of the invention and rights that a purchaser or licensee is receiving.

3) Prevention of Theft of Invention

The third reason why a utility patent is worth it is that it allows the inventor to profit from his invention by selling it without having to worry about others stealing and copying his product or invention. Well, this is somewhat true.

An inventor cannot just patent his invention and leave it up to the patent office to protect it. The patent office is not responsible for protecting an invention.

The patent office grants the patent rights to an inventor, it is then the inventor's responsibility to protect his invention by looking for bad actors who are using it without his permission.

If the patent holder finds bad actors, he is responsible for asking them to stop using, making, or selling his invention without his permission. If they do not comply with the patent holder's request, the patent holder can then bring a lawsuit against the infringer in Federal District Court.

If the patent holder is successful in his lawsuit, he may be able to obtain an injunction, ordering the infringing party to stop making or selling the inventor's invention without his permission.

Why Are Utility Patents Not Worth It?

Just as we covered many reasons why obtaining a utility patent is worth it, we will now cover some reasons why a utility patent is not worth it. Read below to find out our reasoning.

1) Amount of Time it Takes to Patent Your Invention

For some inventors, it might not be worth patenting your invention simply because of the amount of time and effort it takes to patent an invention. It currently takes the patent office 24+ months to grant a patent application.

Some utility patent application will take more time and others will take less, it really depends on the complexity of your invention and how efficient you are in replying to any patent office communications.

Here is a quick Patent Rebel Tip: If you have an invention that you want to patent quickly, you can expedite your utility patent application by applying for Track One. Track One is a USPTO service that allows an inventor to expedite his utility patent application.

Track one promises to grant a utility patent application within 12 months of an applicant filing his patent application. To be able to use Track One, an applicant must first apply for and get approved to use this service. This service is not free and you will have to pay an additional fee to expedite your utility patent application.

That said, even if you're not accepted to use the Track One service, you should patent your invention if it is valuable and you know you can profit from it. There are many benefits to patenting your invention that we have covered in this article.

2) Cost of a Utility Patent

A utility patent may no be worth it if you can't profit from your invention by selling it or licensing it. Obtaining a utility patent is very costly, with simple inventions costing $8,500+ to patent when you take into consideration the fees you have to pay to the patent office, as well as attorney fees to prepare and file your patent application.

The patent office routinely asks for changes to be made to a patent application, so if you have to make changes or amendments to your patent application, you may have to pay your attorney more money to make changes and/or amendments to your utility patent application.

Having said that, utility patents also require maintenances fees to keep your patent in its grant state. Maintenance fees must be made at 3.5 years, 7.5 years, and 11.5 years.

Maintenance fees can exceed thousands of dollars. So, you should really think about whether a utility patent is worth it because there is a lot of money that needs to be paid to obtain a utility patent, as well as to keep your utility patent granted.

3) Defending Your Invention

As we mentioned earlier, your work does not stop after you patent your invention. The USPTO will not police your patent for you nor will it go after those who copy, use, or make your invention without your permission.

It is the patent holder's job to seek bad actors who are making unauthorized use of his invention and to stop them from doing so, either by sending them a cease and desist letter or by bringing a lawsuit against them in Federal Court.

If you've ever dealt with a patent attorney, then you know that their services are not cheap. So, unless you have the money to not only patent your invention but also to police it, you should consider whether it's worth it to patent your invention.

If your invention makes you money, then, by all means, patent it, but if you're unsure of whether you can sell it or profit from it, you should consider whether it's worth it to patent it.

At the end of the day, each case is different and you should consult with your attorney to determine whether it's worth it, for your particular case, to patent your invention or product.

How Long Do Utility Patents Last?

Utility patents last for 20 years from the date an applicant files a (regular) nonprovisional patent application with the patent office. During the 20-year patent term, an inventor will be able to stop others from using, making, selling, and importing his patented invention to the United States.

That said, to keep a utility patent as granted, a utility patent holder must pay periodic maintenance fees to the patent office. Such fees are due at 3.5 years, 7.5 years, and 11.5 years. If a utility patent holder fails to pay these required fees, the patent will expire and the patent holder will no longer be able to stop others from using, making, and selling his invention.

Can a Patent Holder Renew His Patent After it Expires?

If a patent expires due to nonpayment of maintenance fees, the patent holder will have an opportunity to renew his patent by paying the past due maintenance fees, in addition to a late fee to renew his patent. However, if a utility patent expires because the patent term has lapsed, it cannot be renewed under any circumstances.

That said, some inventors improve upon their old invention, adding new features and making tweaks and then patenting those new features by preparing and filing a new utility patent application. This is one way that you can still profit from an old invention even though the patent protecting it has expired.

Is it Worth it To Also Get a Design Patent?

If you have an invention and you want to protect how it looks, in addition to protecting how it works, you will need to file a separate design patent application. Utility patents protect how your invention works and design patents protect how your invention looks or its appearance.

Filing only a utility patent application will not protect the appearance of your invention. To protect its appearance, you'll need to file a separate design patent application.

Design patent applications are significantly cheaper to prepare and file when compared to utility patent applications mainly because they only have one claim, meaning you can only protect one design per design patent application.

If your design is something that's important to your customers, you should patent it to stop others from copying your design and selling a product of their own that bears your new and unique design.

Is It Worth it To Patent Your Invention on Your Own?

Although the USPTO does allow inventors to patent their own inventions, it expressly recommends that inventors hire an attorney to assist them with the preparation and filing of their patent application.

The patent office makes this recommendation because there are many requirements that must be met when preparing a patent application and it's quite difficult for the average person who is not familiar with these requirements to follow them properly, as such hiring an experienced patent attorney is the best way to ensure that the job is done right.

That said, if you do not have the money to hire an attorney, you should consider hiring a patent agent. Patent agents have passed the patent bar exam and are able to assist inventors with preparing, filing, and prosecuting their patent application.

Patent agents, like patent lawyers, can communicate with the patent office on your behalf and they can also make the amendments or changes that the patent office may require you to make. The great thing about hiring a patent agent is that they often charge less than patent attorneys while performing many of the same jobs that patent attorneys perform.

Is It Worth It to Get a Utility Patent?

At this point, you should know that obtaining a utility patent over your invention can be a great way to protect your invention or product. That said, utility patents are expensive to obtain, so determining whether you can profit from your invention after patenting it will help you determine whether a utility patent is worth it. We are not your lawyer, so if you really want your specific case evaluated, you should contact your attorney to determine whether it's worth it for you to obtain a utility invention to protect your specific invention or product.


are design patents worth it

Are Design Patents Worth It?

Design patents allow inventors to protect new and unique designs that they've created. Obtaining a design patent allows the patent holder to restrict others from using, making, selling, and importing the patented design to the United States for a limited period of time (15 years from the date the USPTO grants a design patent application). So, is it worth it to protect your design using a design patent?

Are Design Patents Worth It?

Design patents are worth it if you have a design that makes your product or article sell. Said differently, if your design encourages your customers to purchase your product, then obtaining a design patent for your product may be worth investing your time and money.

Obtaining a design patent requires an inventor of a new design to prepare and file a design patent application with the patent office. Preparing a design patent application should only be done by a professional because the patent office has a lot of requirements that must be met before they grant you a design patent.

Making even small mistakes in your design patent application can cost you a lot of money to fix down the road, so it's important to get it right from the getgo.

Design patents are much quicker and easier to obtain than utility patents, making them great for protecting designs that earn you money. Some designs can be protected by copyright law, but patenting them offers much stronger IP protection.

Restrict Others From Using Your Invention

The main reason a design patent is worth it is that it allows the patent holder to restrict others from using, making, selling, and importing an article that bears his patented design without his permission.

By being able to restrict who uses your invention, a patent holder may be able to use, make, and sell the patented invention (design) without having his competitors copy his design and sell it on their own.

If a design patent holder's competitors copy his design, the patent holder will be able to bring a lawsuit against them for patent infringement. If successful in his lawsuit, the patent holder may be able to obtain an injunction prohibiting his competitors from making and selling his design.

Licensing Your Invention

The second reason why a design patent is worth it is that the design patent holder can license the patented design to others for use in exchange for a royalty or agreed-upon fee.

Having a design patent makes it easier for the patent holder to license his invention (design) because the licensee knows exactly what he is getting since the patented design is published once the patent office grants a design patent application.

Freely Exploiting Your Patented Design

The third reason why a design patent is worth it is that it allows the patent holder to freely use his design without having to worry about the theft of his patented design.

That said, it is not the USPTO's job to police a patent holder's patent, the patent holder must look for people making unauthorized use of his invention and ask them to stop such use. If they refuse to do so, the patent holder can bring a lawsuit against them.

For many people having a patent alone discourages them from using a patent holder's invention without his permission, but there are bad actors who ignore patents and use the patented invention, make it, and sell it without the patent holder's permission.

Such bad actors can be dealt with by the patent holder bringing a lawsuit in Federal District Court for patent infringement. If successful, the patent holder will be able to stop their infringing use and recover any damages he sustained as a result of it.

Why Are Design Patents Not Worth It?

Amount of Time it Takes is Long (This Tip Will Speed up the Process)

Some would say that design patents are not worth it because the patent office in the United States takes too long to review a design patent application and grant the patent.

While it's true that if you do file a design patent application in the United States, it takes the patent office 20 months to grant your design patent application. However, here is a secret from Patent Rebel that will get your design patent approved way quicker.

The patent office offers a service known as Rocket Docket that allows design patent applicants to expedite their patent application so that it is approved in under 6 months. Some reports claim to have had their design patent application approved in as little as 4 months.

However, expediting a design patent application like anything you do at the patent office costs money. If you want to expedite your design patent application, you should expect to pay an additional $500 to do so.

Cost of a Design Patent

Patenting an invention can be a costly endeavor, especially if you hire an experienced patent attorney to prepare and file your design patent application for you.

If you have a simple straightforward design that you want to patent, you should expect to pay a patent attorney $2,500 to $3,500 to prepare your design patent application in addition to the patenting fees that must be paid to the patent office.

We know that for some inventors these fees may be very high, but for a person who has a product that sells very well, it may be worth it to pursue a design patent to protect its appearance so that the patent holder can stop competitors from copying and selling a similar product that has the same design.

Defending Your Patent Rights

As we mentioned earlier, patenting your design does mean that you can just sit back and wait for the patent office to enforce your rights. As a design patent holder, you need to constantly look for bad actors who are using your design without your permission and ask them to stop misusing your intellectual property.

Bad actors often do not respond to a cease and desist order, so design patent holders may often have to bring a lawsuit against them and if you've ever dealt with a patent attorney, you probably know that their services do not come cheap.

So, this is just something that you should keep in mind if you decide to patent your design.

Are Design Patents Worth Money?

Whether design patents are worth money depends on the value of the design you've patented. For example, when Louis Vuitton patents a new pursue or pair of high heels, you can bet that their design patent is worth a ton of money to them because their products sell for a huge amount of money.

You don't have to be Louis Vuitton for your design patent to be worth money. For example, if you sell a lawnmower that has a special design that your customers like, your design patent will worth money to you or your business, so the answer really depends on whether the end-user of your product purchases it for its unique design.

If they do purchase it for its design, then your design patent is worth something, however, if the design doesn't really affect your customers' choice to purchase your product, your design may not be worth as much as you think its worth.

If you have a design and you're considering whether to patent it, contact an experienced patent attorney, sit down with them and they should be able to offer some valuable insights on what your design is worth to you or your business and how you should proceed with protecting it.

Do You Need a Design Patent?

If you have a product or article that has a unique look and you know that competitors might copy your design, it might be worth considering patenting your design so that you can stop bad actors from copying your design and applying it to their own products.

That said, you should know that design patents only protect how your product or article looks, design patents do not protect how your product works. So, if you have a product that functions differently from anything that's on the market and looks different, a design patent only protects how it looks.

If you want to protect how your product or invention works, you need to apply for a utility patent in addition to a design patent. Design patents protect how your invention looks while utility patents protect how your invention works.

A design patent may not be enough and we will explain why. Let's say that you obtain a design patent over your product. If your competitor makes a product that works the same way as yours but looks different, a design patent won't help you because it only protects the appearance of your product.

So, to protect how your invention works you need to obtain a utility patent in addition to your design patent and each one of them will protect a portion of your product.

How Long Does a Design Patent Last?

In the United States, a design patent issued from a design patent application filed on or after May 13th, 2015 last for 15 years from the date the patent office grants a design patent application.

Design patents issued from design patent application filed before May 13, 2015 last for 14 years from the date the patent office grants a design patent application.

Currently, design patents in the United States offer 15 years of patent protection, which is plenty of time considering that designs go out of style way sooner than a design patent expires, making 15 years of protection more than plenty for most people.

In the event that your design patent expires and you still want to use your design exclusively, you should consider making improvements to the old design and patenting the new and improved design.

Is it Worth it to Patent Your Design? (Patent Rebel's Take)

At this point, you should know that patenting a design is worth it if you can profit from the design. Patenting a design isn't cheap, so you should only invest the time and money obtaining a design patent if you can use it to make money. To obtain a design patent, you should hire an attorney to prepare and file a design patent application for your design (invention). The process can take up to 20 months, but this time can be shortened to less than 6 months if you make a request to expedite your design patent application. That said, if you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.