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.


what is the best intellectual property protection

What is the Best Intellectual Property Protection?

The USPTO offers several different forms of intellectual property (IP) protection. So, as an owner of an intellectual property, which form of intellectual property protection should you choose? We will discuss the best intellectual property protection below.

What is the Best Intellectual Property Protection?

The best intellectual property protection is the one that's suitable for your specific property. The patent office offers IP owners the ability to protect their IP with the following forms of protection:

  • Patents

  • Trademarks

  • Copyrights

  • Trade Secrets

The best intellectual property protection is the one that's suitable for your specific type of property, here is a chart that will help you determine the appropriate type of protection for your property.


IP Protection
Protects
Length of Protection
Registration Required?
Infringement
Cost of Protection
Utility Patent
Utility patents protect how an invention works (The function of an invention)20 years from the filing date of a patent applicationYesOccurs when someone uses, makes, sells, or imports to the U.S the patented invention$$$$$
Design Patent
Design patents protect how an invention looks (The appearance or ornamental aspects of an invention)15 years from the date the patent office grants a design patent applicationYesOccurs when someone uses, makes, sells, or imports to the U.S the patented invention$$$
Trademark
Trademarks protect brand names, symbols, and logos that are used to identify the source of goods or servicesTrademark protection is ongoing so long as the trademark is used as a trademarkNo, but registration is very importantAnyone who uses the trademark to mislead the public as to the source of goods or services$$
Copyright
Copyrights protect works of art, such as songs, movies, books, and software codeCopyrights are valid throughout the life of the author, as well as 70 years after the death of the authorNo, but registration offers additional rights and protectionAnyone who copies the artistic work without the permission of the author. This is subject to some exceptions$
Trade Secret
Protects information that a business has that is unknown to the publicIndefinite so long as the trade secret is kept as a secretNoMisappropriation of trade secretsNot Applicable

After reading this table, you should be able to choose the appropriate protection for your intellectual property. We covered what type of IP is protects by utility patents, design patents, trademarks, copyright, and trade secrets.

Note: In some circumstances, you may choose more than one type of intellectual property protection to protect the same invention, design, artwork, or brand.

We will discuss each type of IP protection in more detail below.

Utility Patent IP Protection

Utility patents can be used to protect how your invention works or the functional aspects of your invention. You can obtain a utility patent by preparing and filing a utility patent application with the USPTO.

If you want to protect your invention with a utility patent, make sure that you file a utility patent application within 12 months of publicly disclosing your invention or offering it for sale.

When filing a utility patent application, inventors have two options. The first option is to file a provisional application or to file a (regular) nonprovisional utility patent application.

A provisional application does not turn into a patent but it reserves an early filing date for an invention. This is very important in the US because the US has a first to file rule, which grants a patent to the first inventor who files a patent application. To obtain a patent after filing a provisional application, an applicant must file a regular application within 12 months of filing the provisional application.

If you are successful in obtaining a utility patent, your invention will be protected for 20 years from the date you filed a nonprovisional patent application with the patent office.

Once the patent office grants a utility patent application, the patent holder will be able to restrict others from using, making, selling, and importing the patented invention to the United States.

That said, obtaining a utility patent is quite expensive due to the amount of work that goes into preparing and filing a patent application with the patent office. Patenting even a simple invention could cost more than $8,000.

Design Patent IP Protection

Design patents can be used to protect how your invention looks. If your product or invention has a unique appearance, you can protect its appearance by preparing and filing a design patent application with the USPTO.

Like with utility patents, a design patent must be filed within 12 months of publicly disclosing your design or offering an article that bears the design that you want to patent.

If you do not file a design patent application within 12 months of publicly disclosing or selling your design, you will be prohibited from patenting it.

If you are successful in patenting your design, you will be able to stop others from using, making, selling, and importing an article to the United States that bears the design that you've patented.

If someone does use, make, or sell your patented design, you will be able to bring a lawsuit against them for patent infringement in Federal District Court.

If your lawsuit is successful, you may obtain an injunction against them prohibiting them from infringing upon your intellectual property. In some circumstances, you may also be able to recover lost profits that you incurred as a result of the infringement upon your design patent.

Design patents are less expensive to obtain from utility patents because they require less work by the attorney preparing your design patent application. If you want to protect your design with a design patent, you should expect to pay $2,500 to $3,500 for an attorney to prepare your design patent application.

Trademark IP Protection

If you have a brand name, logo, or symbol that you use on products or services that you offer to the public, you can protect them by registering them as a trademark with the USPTO.

The trademark office has allowed people to register sounds, colors, and designs if customers use them to identify them or their businesses are the source of goods or services.

That said, the most commonly registered trademarks with the patent office are word marks, logos, and slogans that businesses use to identify themselves as the source of goods or services.

Trademark registration is not mandatory, however, you;re only protected in the State in which you're using the trademark.

Registering your mark establishes your ownership over the registered mark and gives other notice that you're using the trademark.

At Patent Rebel, we believe the most important benefit of registering your trademark with the patent office is that it offers nationwide protection for your trademark. This means that no one can use the same trademark on the goods or services for which your trademark is registered throughout the United States.

If a bad actor uses your trademark on his goods or services and such use confuses the public, you can bring a lawsuit against the bad actor for trademark infringement in Federal District Court.

If you're successful in your lawsuit, you may be able to obtain an injunction prohibiting them from using your trademark, as well as recovering any damages you sustained by the bad actor's use of your trademark.

Registering your trademark with the USPTO is fairly inexpensive and could be done for less than $300 if you're willing to prepare the trademark application and file it on your own. However, if you want the help of a service, you should expect to pay an additional $200 to $500 for online services to assist you with preparing your trademark application.

Copyright IP Protection

Copyrights protect original works of art, such as photos, songs, movies, novels, articles such as the one you're reading, poetry, and even computer software.

If you have an artistic work such as the ones we mentioned above, you should know that they're protected automatically under U.S copyright law the same moment you create the work.

Although registering your work is is not mandatory for protection, registering your work as a copyright with the U.S Copyright Office does have its benefits.

The main benefit of registering your work as a copyright with the copyright office is that you'll be able to bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement in Federal District Court against any party that infringes upon your registered work.

The only requirement for copyright protection is that you have a work of art that's fixed in a tangible medium of expression. This requirement is easily satisfied. Writing down a song, drawing on a sheet of paper, or saving information to a medium, such as a flash drive or hard drive satisfies this requirement.

So, by now, you may be wondering how long does copyright protection last?

Copyrights for artistic works created on or after January 1st, 1978 last for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years after his death. So, for most people, this protection is enough.

Registering your work as a copyright with the U.S Copyright Office is very easy and inexpensive, costing $35 to register a single piece of artwork. So, if you have a song, book, or piece of art that you want to protect, copyright registration is easily obtainable.

Trade Secret Intellectual Property Protection

According to the USPTO, a trade secret consists of "any information that can include a formula, pattern, compilations, program, device, method, technique, or process" that's used in business and gives the holder of such information an economic advantage over competitors who don't know the information.

Trade secrets are not registered with any entities, such as the USPTO or the Copyright Office, instead, it is the responsibility of the trade secret owner to take reasonable precautions to protect his trade secret.

Since trade secrets are not registered with anyone, they last for as long as they remain a secret. So, in reality, a trade secret could last forever, so long as the holder does not disclose it.

If you have a trade secret and you need to disclose it to perform your business, you should have the party with whom you're sharing your trade secret sign a confidentiality agreement.

Having them sign a confidentiality agreement could prove to be helpful if the party with whom you're sharing your trade secret misappropriates because it shows that you've taken reasonable steps to protect the trade secret and the information should qualify for trade secret protection under the law.

Some people choose trade secret protection over patent protection for a few reasons. The first reason is that trade secret protection could last forever, whereas a patent expires after 15 to 20 years, depending on the type of patent you have.

The second reason is that patenting an invention requires disclosing everything about your invention, product, or formula, including disclosing how it works, how to make it, and how it's used.

Once the patent expires, the public will be able to replicate the once patented invention and sell their own version of it. By opting not to patent your invention, you could profit from it indefinitely so long as no one reverse engineers it or learns how to copy it.

So, if you have an invention and you're wondering about how to approach protecting it, you now know that you can ask your attorney about the difference between patenting your invention or protecting it as a trade secret.

Frequently Asked Questions?

1) Should you protect your intellectual property?

Yes, if you have intellectual property that is valuable to you or your business, you should protect it. The type of protection you need depends on the type of IP that you want to protect. We included a great chart that should help you choose the property IP protection for your property. If you still don't know which protection you need, you should contact an attorney and ask them to assist you with choosing the correct protection.

2) What are the 4 main types of intellectual property protection?

As we have mentioned throughout this article, the four main types of intellectual property protection are (1) patents, (2) trademarks, (3) copyrights, and (4) trade secrets. We have included a table that should help you determine which type of IP protection is suitable for your specific case. If you have any additional questions, you should contact your attorney to assist you with choosing the proper IP protection.

3) How do you protect your intellectual property?

How you protect your IP depends on the type of property that you have. If you have an invention or a design, then patenting is the way to protect it. If you have a brand that customers use to identify you as the source of goods or services, then trademark registration may be the correct option. If you have artistic work, such as a song, movie, photo, or book, the correct protection is copyright law. If you have a secret that improves your business, protecting it as a trade secret may be the proper protection. So, the answer depends on the type of property you want to protect.

4) How long does intellectual property last?

  • Utility patents last for 20 years from the filing date of your patent application
  • Design patents last for 15 years from the date the patent office grants your design patent application
  • Trademarks may last forever so long as you continue to use them as a trademark
  • Copyrights last throughout the life of the author, as well as 70 years after the death of the author
  • Trade secrets can last forever, so long as the holder of the secrets continues to protect them as such

5) What is intellectual property (IP) law?

IP law is the section of law that protects intangible and tangible property, such as inventions, artistic works, and information used to give businesses an advantage over their competitors. IP law is becoming increasingly important for inventors who want to profit from their ideas and inventions.

Best Intellectual Property (IP) Protection

At this point, you should know the different forms of intellectual property protection that are offered under US law. Different forms of intellectual goods are protected by different mechanisms. Choosing the correct form of protection is vital to protecting your intellectual property. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


what does a patent grant mean

What Does Patent Grant Mean?

Whether you're checking on the status of your own patent application or you're checking the status of someone else's patent, you might be wondering what does a patent grant mean? Read below to find out what a patent grant is.

What Does Patent Grant Mean?

According to the USPTO, a patent grant is the award of a property right by the USPTO to an inventor over an invention, process, machine, or design for a limited period of time. A grant of patent rights lasts for 20 years for utility patents and 15 years for design patents. Patent grants are made to applicants who have successfully prosecuted their patent applications.

A grant of patent rights only protects and inventor in the United States. A grant of patent rights allows an inventor to stop others from using, making, selling, offering to sell, and importing the patented invention to the United States without the patent holder's express permission for a limited period of time.

A utility patent grant allows inventors to stop others from using their invention, process, machine, or composition of matter without the patent holder's express permission for 20 years. The 20-year patent term begins at the time of filing a patent application with the patent office.

A design patent grant allows inventors to stop others from using design without the patent holder's express permission for 15 years. The 15-year patent term begins at the time the patent office grants a design patent application.

What Does Patent Status Grant Mean?

A patent grant status means that the USPTO has granted an inventors patent application and that the patent holder has been granted the right to restrict others from using, making, selling, and importing his invention to the United States without his express permission.

If you see a patent that is in its grant state, do not copy the invention, use it, or sell it unless you have the patent holder's permission. If you do use or sell the inventor's invention, the patent holder has the right to sue you for patent infringement in the United States.

What does patent issued mean?

Patent issued means the same as patent granted. Both terms are used to refer to a patent application that the patent examiner has approved after an applicant has successfully prosecuted his patent application. Both utility patents and design patents that are issued are granted.

Why does the patent office grant patents?

The patent office grants inventors patents over their inventions to encourage them to innovate because by inventors knowing that they control who uses and sells their invention they will be encouraged to invest their own time and money in creating new products and improve upon existing technology.

A patent grant gives an inventor a property right in his invention, allowing him to ask others to stop using, making, and selling his invention for a limited period of time.

That said, it is not the patent office's responsibility to stop others from using the patent holder's invention. If the patent holder suspects that someone is using or selling his invention without his permission, it is the patent holder's responsibility to find the bad actor and ask them to stop using his invention.

If the bad actor does list to the patent holder, the patent holder has the right to bring a lawsuit against the bad actor in Federal District Court for patent infringement.

If the patent holder is successful in his lawsuit, he may be awarded an injunction asking the bad actor to stop his infringing use. The patent holder may also be awarded monetary damages for any losses he sustained as the result of the bad actor's patent infringement.

What invention qualifies for a patent grant?

For an invention to qualify for an invention grant, the invention must (1) have patentable subject matter, (2) the invention must be new, (3) the invention must be non-obvious, and (4) the invention must be useful.

Patentable Subject Matter

The invention must have patentable subject matter means that the invention must be the sort for which patent law provides protection. The patent law offers protection for:

  • Invention
  • Process
  • Machine
  • Article of manufacture
  • Composition of matter
  • Software

Novel

The novelty requirement requires an invention to be new, something that has never been patented before and something that has not been publicly disclosed.

Nonobvious

To obtain a patent grant, an inventor must have an invention that is non-obvious, meaning that an ordinary person who is skilled in the field of the invention, would not have found the invention to be obvious at the time of filing the patent application.

Useful

The usefulness requirement is an easy requirement to satisfy and very rarely are invention denied patent protection on the grounds that they are not useful. You have to show that your invention provides some identifiable benefit to the public.

Types of Patent Grants

The USPTO offer three different types of patent grants:

  1. Utility Patent: A patent grant that is awarded to the inventor of a new process, machines, article of manufacture, or composition of matter.
  2. Design Patent: A patent grant that is awarded to the inventor of a new, original, and unique design for an article of manufacture.
  3. Plant Patent: A patent grant that is awarded to the inventor of a new species of asexually reproduced plant.

Patent Pending Does Not Equal Patent Grant

Patent-pending is given to any inventor who files a patent application with the USPTO. Having a patent-pending is not the same as a patent grant. A patent grant is given if, after the patent office examines a patent application, it determines that the invention meets the requirements for patentability.

Inventors have a patent-pending as soon as they file a provisional utility patent application, a nonprovisional (regular) patent application, or after filing a design patent application.

We often get a lot of questions about pending patents and so we want to clarify that a patent-pending invention is not a patent grant.

Since pending patent applications are not granted patents, an inventor does not have the right to restrict others from using, making, selling, and importing his invention to the United States until the patent office grants his patent application.

Once the patent office grants or awards an inventor a patent, the inventor can only then begin exercising his property rights in his invention.

Provisional Patent Pending

If an inventor files a provisional patent application, he will not be granted a patent unless he files a nonprovisional patent application within 12 months of filing his provisional patent application. If the patent approves a nonprovisional patent application, only then will an inventor be granted a patent and all the rights that come with holding a patent.

How to Check the Status of a Patent?

If you want to check the status of a patent or patent application, you can do so by heading over to the USPTO PAIR Site, which allows you to check the status of any patent application filed in the U.S.

If you find that the status of a patent application is pending, then the patent is not granted, so the applicant still does not have IP rights.

But, if the status of the patent application you're checking is granted, then the patent office has granted the patent application and the patent holder has the right to restrict others from using, making, and selling his invention in the United States.

Frequently Asked Questions at Patent Rebel

1. Is it worth it to patent your invention?

Absolutely, yes. Patent Rebel's take is that if you have an invention that you know you can profit from, you should prepare and file a patent application with the patent office. However, to be able to patent your invention, you need to make sure that no one else has already patented the same invention. If you have a valuable invention, you should contact an experienced patent attorney and have them explain your options for protecting your intellectual property.

2. Can you sue someone without a granted patent?

If the patent office has not yet granted or issued your patent, you cannot sue anyone for patent infringement because you don't have any intellectual property rights in your invention until the patent office issues your patent application. Once the patent office grants or issues your patent, you will be able to sue others who use or sell your invention or product without your express permission.

3. Why are patents and important?

Patents are important because, without them, anyone will be able to copy and replicate peoples' inventions without their permission and without any consequences. If this happens, inventors would not be encouraged to spend their money and time developing new products.

4. What is a provisional patent application?

A provisional patent application is a patent application that is filed with the patent office. Provisional applications are usually filed by inventors to reserve an early filing date for their invention. They are less expensive and can be quickly prepared and filed with the patent office. The downside of provisional patent applications is that they never turn into a granted or issued patent. To obtain a patent, an inventor must file a nonprovisional patent application within 12 months of filing a provisional patent application.


Design patent functionality

Design Patent Functionality

If you have a design that you want to protect, you've probably heard that you can only patent a design that is not functional. This is true, design patents can only protect the appearance of your invention, it cannot be used to protect the functional aspect of your invention. If you want to protect the functional aspect of your invention, the correct intellectual property protection is a utility patent and not a design patent. The main goal of this article is to discuss the functionality test for design patents.

Design Patent Functionality Requirement

Design patents protect the new and ornamental features of an article of manufacture. Said differently, design patents protect the appearance of an article or product and how it looks. Patent law does not allow inventors to use design patents to protect the primarily functional elements of an invention.

To be able to patent a design, the design must be separable from the functionality of the article to which the design is applied. Design patents do not cover the article of manufacture itself or its function, instead, design patents are used to protect the appearance of an article or good.

If you have a design that you want to protect, you should use solid lines to identify the design you want to protect and broken lines to indicate the environment of the article that you do not want to protect as part of your design patent. Said differently, broken lines illustrate what an applicant is not claiming as part of the design patent.

If you have to include the environment in which the claimed design is present, you can include it in your patent drawings, but you have to distinguish from the design you want to protect by using broken lines such as those shown in the image below.

In this design patent drawing, the air compressor design is claimed as the invention to be protected and the environment surrounding the air compressor, which is not to be protected is differentiated and pointed out by the use of broken lines.

Design Patent Functionality Test

To patent your design, the inventor must have made a conscious act to create the design to improve the appearance of the product or article of manufacture.

To determine the ornamentality of a design, the courts have asked whether a design is primarily functional and in doing so the court examines the elements of the design as a whole.

For a design to be ornamental, it must have been made for the purpose to improve the appearance of an article or product. It must not have been made to improve the function of an article.

When determining whether a design is primarily functional or primarily ornamental in nature, the design is looked at in its entirety. The design will not be looked at element by element, rather the article is looked at as a whole to determine whether the design actually improves the appearance of the article or whether it really improves the function of the article.

The initial burden to show that a design is not ornamental lies on the patent examiner to provide a prima facie case of unpatentability. The presence of lack of ornamentality must be made on a case-by-case basis.

To support a finding that your design is ornamental, it would help any applicants case to show that the design is something that the end-user of the article would see and notice the design by using the article of product. On the other hand, if the design is hidden during the normal use of the article, the design patent application may be rejected.

Obtaining Both a Design Patent and a Utility Patent

Inventors can obtain a design patent to protect the appearance of an invention and they can also obtain a utility patent to protect the functional aspects of the invention.

When illustrating how a design patent and utility patent can be obtained over the same invention, we always use the nail clipper example. Now to our nail clipper example. You can patent the functional aspects of a nail clipper, such as the hinges or mechanism that allows it to cut nails by using a utility patent and if the nail clippers have a unique handle, you can patent that handle using a design patent.

That said, if you want both design patent and utility patent protection, you need to apply for both patents separately, meaning you'll need to file a utility patent application and a design patent application.

If you have an invention where the utility and appearance are overlapping and cannot be separated, you should consult with an attorney on how to approach patenting your invention. Your attorney may recommend only filing a utility patent or he may recommend that you seek both types of patent protection depending on your specific circumstances.

Design patents are much easier and less expensive to obtain than utility patents. Utility patents are costly, mainly because of the time it takes an attorney to prepare your patent application. Design patents take a fraction of the time that utility patents take to prepare.

Also, utility patents cost more to file than design patent applications. However, if your design is important to your product because it's something that your customers consider when purchasing your product, you may want to invest the extra money in patenting the appearance of your invention.

That said, utility patents offer much stronger protection than design patents. This is so because utility patents protect how an invention works, so even if your competitor makes an invention looks different, if it works the same way your utility patented invention works, you will be able to stop them from using, making, selling, and importing your invention to the United States.

Counterfeiters are smart and they do know how to copy your invention without copying its appearance, so if you only have a design patent protecting how your invention looks, you're out of luck if the counterfeiter changes the way it looks.

But, if you have a utility patent, even if the counterfeiter changes the way your invention looks, you will have a remedy if they copy how your invention works. So, obtaining a utility patent is a very important form of intellectual property protection.

That said, having a design patent is still important, especially if the way your product looks is a selling point for it. So, ask your attorney about obtaining both a utility patent and a design patent. The utility patent protects how your invention works and the design patent will protect how it looks.

Design Patents vs Utility Patents

The basic difference between design patents and utility patents is that design patents protect how your invention looks and utility patents protect how your invention works.

Design patents are much cheaper to obtain than utility patents. It might cost you $2,000 to obtain a design patent, while it may cost you more than $8,000 to obtain a utility patent. However, it should be noted that utility patents protect far more than design patents.

As we mentioned above, it tends to be easier for a bad actor to design around the design of your invention to make a competing product look different than it is for a bad actor to design around the function of your invention. This is why utility patents tend to be a stronger type of intellectual property protection.

That said, design patents tend to have a much lower probability of being rejected by the patent office. Almost all utility patent applications are initially rejected, necessitating the applicant to make changes and/or amendments to the application before it's approved by the patent office. However, many design patents are approved without ever been rejected.

Benefits of Obtaining a Design Patent

If you patent the design of your invention, you will be able to stop others from using, making, selling, and importing an article that has the design you've patented. That said, it is the design patent holder's job to police his design to ensure that no else is using his design without his permission. The patent office only grants the patent rights to the patent holder, the patent holder is then responsible for enforcing his rights under patent law.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is a Design Patent Used For?

A design patent is used to protect how your invention looks. Said differently, it protects the ornamentality or appearance of your invention. You can obtain a design patent by applying using a design patent application.

2) Can You Patent a Design Concept?

You cannot patent a concept or an idea. To patent a design, you must have a design that's applied to an article of manufacture. You must be able to provide drawings of the design as applied to an object if you want to be able to patent it.

3) What Are the Three Types of Patents?

The patent office offers design patents, utility patents, and plant patents. This article focused on the two most popular patents: design patents and utility patents. As mentioned previously, design patents protect the appearance of an invention, while utility patents protect the function of an invention or how the invention works.

4) How Do You Avoid Design Patent Infringement?

To avoid design patent infringement, the design that you use must be different than any other design that has been issued a patent that is still active. If you have a design that was once patented but is no longer patent, you can use that design without committing patent infringement, however, make sure that the design is not protected by other forms of IP protection, such as copyright law and trademark law.

5) What is an Ornamental Design Patent?

An ornamental design patent is really just a design patent. Design patents protect the ornamental design of an object or how an article looks. All design patents are meant to protect how your invention looks.


Provisional vs Nonprovisional Patent

Provisional vs Nonprovisional Patent (What is the Difference)

If you have an invention that you want to patent, you may be wondering whether you should protect it using a provisional patent or a nonprovisional patent. While there is no such thing as a provisional patent, you can certainly file what is known as a provisional patent application. Also, inventors have the option of filing what is known as a nonprovisional utility patent application. We will explain the difference between a provisional patent application and a nonprovisional patent application in the section below.

Provisional vs Nonprovisional Patent

A provisional patent application is a type of patent application that reserves an early filing date for an invention but does not turn into a patent. A nonprovisional utility patent application is a regular patent application that does turn into a granted patent.

So, why is there even a provisional patent application?

First to File Rule

A provisional patent application is available because it's a cheap and effective way to obtain an early filing date for your invention if it is drafted properly. Obtaining an early priority date is important in the United States because the U.S is a first to file county that awards a patent to the first person to file a patent application (provisional or nonprovisional) with the patent office.

Filing a patent application as quickly as possible is important in the U.S because if you were the first person to invent an invention and someone else invents the same invention after you but files his patent application before you do, he will be awarded the patent and you will not be able to patent the same invention even though you invented it first.

For this reason, we have provisional patent applications. Provisional applications require much less information and are quite cheap to file when compared to regular, nonprovisional patent applications. This makes provisional patent applications a great tool to obtain an early filing date for your invention, especially if you're still working on it or you need some time to get investors to invest in your invention.

Patent Pending

After filing either a provisional patent application or a nonprovisional patent application, you will be able to mark your invention or product with the words patent pending. You will also be able to market your invention as patent-pending and adding the words patent pending to the product materials and/or product materials.

Note: If you do choose to file a provisional patent application instead of a nonprovisional patent application, you need to file a nonprovisional patent application within 12 months of filing your provisional application. If you do not file a nonprovisional utility patent application within the 12 month period, your application is abandoned and you will lose your early filing date.

Preparation & Filing

Preparing a provisional patent application is easier than preparing a nonprovisional patent application because provisional applications do not need to follow many of the formalities of a regular patent application. Also, provisional applications do not require formal patent claims, so provisional applications are not examined, they are only placeholders in time.

Since provisional patent applications don't turn into a granted patent unless a (regular) nonprovisional utility patent application is filed, preparing a provisional application that you can use as your early filing date is very important.

For you to benefit from the early filing date of an earlier-filed provisional application, the invention described in your nonprovisional patent application must be the same invention that you described in your provisional application.

The patent examiner will look at your provisional application and compare its description with the one in your nonprovisional application. If the patent examiner determines that the invention described in your provisional application is different, you will not be able to benefit from the earlier filing date.

When does this become a problem?

This becomes a problem if someone else files a patent application for the same invention after you've filed your provisional patent application. If the patent office does not allow you to benefit from your earlier filing date, the other patent application for the same invention will have priority over your invention.

Therefore, it's very important to take the time to properly describe your invention in the provisional patent application.

Many inventors view a provisional patent application as a cheap alternative that they don't have to put too much effort preparing, but the truth is that a provisional patent is very important and inventors should take the time to properly describe how to make their invention, as well as how to use it.

Hiring an Attorney or Patent Agent

It's best to hire an attorney to draft your provisional patent application for you. Making even seemingly minor mistakes could cause trouble down the road when it comes time to file a regular patent application.

If you don't have the funds to hire an attorney, you should consider the option of hiring a patent agent to prepare your provisional application for you. Patent agents are licensed by the patent office to assist inventors with preparing a provisional patent application and filing them with the patent office. Patent agents tend to charge less than patent attorneys.

Can You Make Changes to Your Provisional Patent Application?

Unfortunately, once you filed a provisional patent application you're stuck with the invention that you described in your provisional patent application.

If you've changed your invention from the time you filed your provisional application, the patent office may not allow you to benefit from the earlier filing date for the changes that you made to your invention.

As such, it's very important for you to take the time to adequately take your time to describe the invention you want to protect so that when the time comes to file your nonprovisional patent application, the invention you describe in your nonprovisional patent application will relate back to your provisional application and benefit from the earlier filing date.

Although drawings of your invention are not required for provisional patent applications, if they will help the patent examiner understand how your invention works, you should include them. Invention drawings will fill in the gaps left by the written description of your invention.

How Long Does it Take for a Provisional Patent to be Approved?

A provisional patent is not examined by the patent office and therefore it cannot be approved. Provisional patent applications are simply placeholders in time that hold a spot for your invention at the patent office.

As mentioned previously, a provisional patent application only lasts for 12 months. During the 12 month grace period, an inventor must either convert his provisional application into a nonprovisional application (rarely done) or an applicant must file a nonprovisional patent application that relates back to and claims the early filing date of an earlier-filed provisional patent application (commonly done).

If a provisional patent applicant does not file a nonprovisional patent application within the 12 month grace period, his provisional application will be abandoned and the early filing date lost.

Should You File a Provisional Patent Application?

If you have an invention that you're still working the kinks out of or you want to find investors to invest in your invention, you can file a provisional patent application to hold a spot in line for your invention.

Remember that the United States is a first to file country that awards the patent to the first inventor to file an not the first to invent. As such, obtaining a spot in line for your invention is necessary if you want to patent it.

Provisional patent applications are the quickest way to save that spot because they don't have to comply with many of the formalities of a regular nonprovisional patent application.

You often hear that provisional patents are cheaper and they do tend to cost less to prepare than nonprovisional patent applications, but it's imperative that you do not rush the preparation of your provisional application if you want to patent your invention later down the road.

Can a Provisional Patent Application Be Rejected?

A provisional patent application cannot be rejected because the patent office does not examine provisional applications. Provisional applications are only placeholders in time.

The patent office will look at your provisional patent application only if you choose to file a nonprovisional patent application within the 12 month grace period. If you file a nonprovisional patent application, the patent examiner at the patent office will look at your provisional application to determine whether the invention described in both applications match to allow the applicant to benefit from the early filing date.

Can You File a Provisional Patent Application Online?

Yes, you can file a provisional patent application online. The USPTO website allows you to add the required information about the inventor and the invention. They also allow you to upload the required documents and drawings. The patent office allows you to pay the required provisional patent application filing fees online.

Here is a great informative guide on how to file a provisional patent application online.

Just remember that if you're serious about patenting your invention, you should take the time to thoroughly prepare your provisional patent application to avoid trouble patenting your invention down the road. If preparing a strong provisional patent application means hiring an experienced patent attorney, then, by all means, hire an experienced patent attorney and have the job done properly.

Can You Extend Your Provisional Patent?

No, a provisional patent application cannot be extended beyond the 12 month grace period. If you want to keep your patent-pending status, you have two options. The first option is to file a nonprovisional patent application to continue patenting your invention or you can file another provisional patent application and that would restart the 12-month clock but you will lose your early filing date for the invention. If you want to know your options because contact your attorney and ask them what you should do. Every situation is different and your attorney will be able to offer you valuable advice.

Nonprovisional Patent Application vs Provisional Patent Application

A nonprovisional patent application is a full-fledged regular utility patent application that inventors file to patent their invention. A nonprovisional patent application can turn into a granted patent.

Inventors also have the option of filing a provisional patent application, which doesn't require formal claims and the formal requirements of a regular patent application, but a provisional application does not turn into a patent. If an inventor chooses to file a provisional application first, he has 12 months to file a regular, nonprovisional patent application to patent his invention.

We also covered topics, such as who a provisional patent application is right for, whether a provisional application can be rejected, and how long it takes to get a provisional patent.

If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


How to expedite a patent application?

How to Expedite a Patent Application?

Whether you've just finished working on your invention or you're just curious about how to expedite your patent application, you've come to the right place. The patent office offers applicants for both utility patents and design patents the ability to expedite their patent applications. We will discuss how to expedite a utility patent application and a design patent application below.

Can You Expedite a Patent Application?

Yes, you can expedite your patent application. The USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) offers applicants for utility patents, design patents, and plant patents the ability to expedite their patent applications. However, utility patent and design patents are expedited differently, we will show you how to expedite your patent application.

How to Expedite a Patent Application?

You can expedite your patent application by filing a request to expedite it. Utility patents and design patents are expedited differently. To expedite a utility patent, you can make a request to use the USPTO's Track One service. To expedite a design patent application, you can use what's known as Rocket Docket by filing a request to expedite your design patent application. By expediting your patent application, your application skips the long line of pending patent applications to the front of the line.

To use either of these services, an applicant typically has to make a request to expedite his patent application. For Track One services for regular (nonprovisional) utility patent application, an applicant must request to use Track One and the same goes for Rocket Docket for design patents.

How to Expedite a Utility Patent using Track One?

Track One promises applicants to either grant or deny a utility patent application with 12 months of an applicant being granted Track One status. That said, even though Track One promises to have a final disposition within 12 months, it currently only takes them 6 months to grant or deny a patent application.

So, if you have an invention that you want to patent as quickly as possible, it's best to request expedited examination under Track One. If your request is granted, you will likely be able to patent your invention within 6 months of being granted Track One status.

That said, Track One isn't free, an applicant must pay a fee to have his utility patent expedited. For micro-entities, the fee is $1,000, for small entities, it's $2,000, and large entities have to pay $4,000. This fee must be paid in addition to the normal fees associated with filing a utility patent application.

To get track one, an applicant must file a request for expedited examination. It currently takes the patent office 50 days to accept an individual into its Track One Program.

How to Expedite a Design Patent Using Rocket Docket?

Rocket Docket is used by applicants for design patents to expedite their design patent application. To obtain expedited examination for a design patent application an applicant must file a request for expedited examination in addition to filing a design patent application.

The request for expedited examination can be made at the time an applicant files his design patent application. However, if an applicant decides after filing a design patent application that he wants to expedite, he may later make a request for expedited examination.

If an applicant's request to have his design patent application expedited is approved, his design patent application skips the line of non-expedited patent applications. The entire process of examining a design patent application is faster by using Rocket Docket.

Like Track One for utility patent applications, Rocket Docket is not free. An applicant has to pay a fee to expedite his design patent application. The fee for micro-entities is $225, small entities pay $450, and large entities must pay $900.

Note: The fee that must be paid is in addition to the normal fees associated with filing a design patent application. If the fees for expediting your patent application are not sent, your application will proceed as a regular design patent application.

How to Speed Up the Process to Patent Your Invention?

  1. Make sure your patent application is completed properly

    When preparing a patent application, you need to make sure that you've properly described to the patent examiner how to make your invention, as well as how to use it. If you don't have experience preparing and filing a patent application, you should hire an attorney to assist you with its preparation and filing. This is so because making even seemingly minor mistakes could get your application rejected, costing you more time and money to fix the mistakes.
  2. Expedite your patent application by either using Track One or Rocket Docket

    If you don't want to wait for 24+ months to have your utility patent application granted or 18+ months for your design patent, you can use the methods we explained above to expedite the processing of your patent application. Just remember that you'll need to pay additional fees to expedite your patent application.

  3. Rush to the patent office to file your patent application

    The United States has a first to file system that awards a patent to the first person who files a patent application for an invention and not the first person who invents it. As such, if you have an invention that you want to patent, you should file a patent application as soon as you can.
  4. Track the status of your patent application

    After filing your patent application with the trademark office, your application will be assigned a serial number. You should periodically check the status of your application to see if the patent office needs any additional information or amendments to your patent application. Responding quickly and on time will help the patent examiner process your patent application as quickly as possible.

How Long Do Patent Applications Take Without Being Expedited?

Utility Patents

If you do not expedite your patent application, the application process will take much longer. White Track One for utility patents promises a disposition on your patent application within 12 months, it often takes as little as 6 months to get your patent approved.

On the other hand, if you do not expedite a utility patent application, it takes 24 months on average to get your utility patent application approved. So, if you have an invention that you want to patent as quickly as possible, Track one is the best option to speed up your patent application.

Design Patents

If you do not expedite your design patent using Rocket Docket, it currently takes 21 months to get your design patent application approved. So, if you want to patent your design as quickly as possible, you may want to file a petition to expedite your design patent application at the same time you file your design patent application.

Applicants who have filed a request to expedite their design patent application have seen their designs patented in less than 6 months. So, if time is of the essence, expediting your design patent application is the way to go to speed up the patenting process.

Frequently Asked Questions

1) What is a track one patent application

A track one patent application is a patent application that has been expedited using the USPTO's Track One service. Track One, often referred to as Track 1, is a service that promises to either grant or deny a patent application within 12 months. So, if you have an invention that you want to patent as quickly as possible, track one may the best option for you.

2) How long does a patent take to get approved?

Patent applications that have not been expedited take longer than those that have been expedited. For example, it takes the patent office 24+ months to approve a utility patent application and it takes them 20 months to approve a design patent application that has not been expedited. If you expedite a utility or design patent application, you should expect a disposition on your patent application within as little as 6 months.

3) How do you start the patenting process?

The patenting process is started by performing a prior art search to determine whether anyone has patented the invention that you want to patent. If your patent search turns up an invention that is similar to yours, the patent office will not allow you to patent something that has already been patented or something that has been publicly disclosed.

After you're finished conducting a prior art search, you need to prepare your patent application and file it with the patent office. At the time you file your patent application, you need to pay the filing fees and associated patenting fees.

Once you've filed your patent application, you need to communicate with the patent office and make any required amendments or changes to your patent application. If your invention satisfies the patenting requirement, the patent office will grant your patent application.

4) How to Get a Patent Faster?

As we mentioned previously, you can get a utility patent faster by requesting to use Track One to expedite your utility patent application or your plant patent application. If you want to expedite a design patent application, you can do so by requesting to expedite it using Rocket Docket.


design patent vs copyright protection

Design Patent vs Copyright Protection

If you have a design that you want to protect, you may be wondering how patenting your design with a design patent differs from protecting your design by registering it with the U.S Copyright Office for copyright protection. Both design patents and copyright protection protect new designs, but they are different forms of intellectual property protection. We will now explain the difference between protecting your design with a design patent vs protecting your design with a copyright.

Design Patent vs Copyright Protection

A design patent allows inventors to protect new, nonfunctional designs that are applied to an article by granting a patent holder the right to restrict others from using and selling their designs. On the other hand, copyright law protects expressions of art, such as photographs, artwork, photographs, songs, and sculptures.

Design Patents

Design patents are a form of intellectual property protection that protects how an object looks or its appearance, they do not protect the functional aspects of an object. If an inventor has a design that's functional, he can only protect it by applying for a utility patent and not a design patent.

If you want to protect your design with a design patent, you need to prepare and file a design patent application with the USPTO. Unlike copyright protection which is automatic in the US, patent protection is not. Instead, a designer needs to apply for a design patent.

To be able to patent a design, an applicant must show that his design is novel (new), nonobvious and that the design is applied to an article of manufacture.

Design patents cannot be used to protect general ideas, an inventor must have a specific design that he wants to protect. Only one design can be protected by a single design patent application.

So, why do inventors choose to protect their designs with design patents?

Inventors choose to protect their designs with design patents because design patents allow patent holders to restrict others from using, making, selling, offering to sell, and importing an object that has the patent holder's design to the United States.

It is the design patent holder's duty to find those infringing upon his design and ask them to stop their infringing activities. It is not the USPTO's job to police a patent holder's patent.

If a patent holder asks a party infringing upon his patent to stop the infringing use and they do not comply with his request, he can bring a lawsuit against that party for patent infringement in Federal District Court.

Copyright Law Protection

Copyright protection is another form of intellectual property protection that protects new works of art that have been fixed in a tangible medium. Copyright law protects things, such as paintings, movies, artwork, songs, sculptures, and computer software.

Copyright protection in the United States is automatic, however, the U.S Copyright Office allows artists who've created artistic works to register them with the Copyright Office for more robust intellectual property protection.

If you want to be able to sue anyone who reproduces your artwork without your permission in Federal Court for copyright infringement, you need to register your artwork with the Copyright Office.

So, if you expect that your artwork may be reproduced or distributed without your permission, you should register it with the copyright office as soon as you've reduced it to a tangible medium.

Which Protection Should You Choose?

If your design is applied to an article of manufacture, design patent protection is the proper type of protection and it's also the strongest type of protection you can get for your design.

Said differently, if you have a product that has a unique appearance, you can protect the appearance of your product by obtaining a design patent.

However, to be able to obtain a design patent over the design of your product, the design must not be functional. Said differently, the design cannot serve a purpose other than an aesthetic one.

For example, if you've invented a new type of nail clippers that has a new and unique design, you may be able to protect its design by patenting it with the patent office.

On the other hand, you will most likely be unable to protect its design with copyright law, unless there is something artistic about its design that can be separated from the article itself, which in the case of out hypothetical nail clippers is not possible because the design is part of the article.

So, if you have a product that has a new and unique appearance, the best intellectual property protection for your product is patenting its design using a design patent.

On the other hand, if you have a cool design that you've applied to a shirt that you want to sell and you don't want others to copy the design you've applied to a shirt, you should register your design with the copyright office because it is the sort of thing that the copyright office protects.

By registering your design with the copyright office, you will be able to bring a copyright infringement lawsuit against anyone who reproduces or distributes your design without your permission.

Why Do Copyrights Last Longer Than Patents?

Copyrights last longer than patent because copyrights are artistic works, so offering creators of artwork a long time of protection is desirable. Patents, on the other hand, are granted to inventors of new and unique invention, so allowing patents to last too long would hinder the advancement of technology because people would not be able to build upon existing patented inventions and designs.

It would hinder the advancement of technology because inventors will not be able to build upon or use patented inventions for a very long period of time. As such, the patent office set the patent term for utility patents to 20 years and the patent term for design patents for 15 years.

Once the patent term expires, the invention falls into the public domain name, allowing anyone to use, make, and sell the once patented invention, as well as to build upon it and improve it.

Why Do We Have Patents and Copyrights?

Patent law was created to encourage inventors to invention new inventions by offering them a monopoly over their invention for a limited period of time. Inventors can profit their invention for a limited period of time without having to compete with others that copied their invention.

This is so because a patent allows an inventor to stop others from using, making, selling, and importing the invention to the United States without their express permission.

However, in return for this monopoly, inventors must disclose in great detail how to make the invention to the public. Once a patent expires, the public is free to use, making, and sell the once patented invention without the permission of the patent holder.

On the other hand, copyrights allow artists who create new artistic works, such as songs, movies, plays, paintings, and sculptures to register their artistic work worth with the U.S Copyright Office to prevent others from reproducing and redistributing their artwork without their permission.

Copyrights last much longer than patents because they usually last throughout the life of the creator of the artwork and an additional 70 years after the life of the creator.

Length of Protection (Copyright vs Design Patent)

Copyright protection in the United States lasts for the life of the creator and an additional 70 years after the author passes away. Design patents, on the other hand, last for 15 years from the date the patent office grants a design patent application.

While copyright protection in the U.S is automatic, design patent protection is not. An artist has 12 months after publicly disclosing or offering the design for sale to file a design patent application with the patent office.

If an inventor does not file a design patent application within 12 months of publicly disclosing the invention or offering it for sale, he will not be able to patent the design.

Qualifying For Both Design Patent and Copyright Protection

Some intellectual property qualifies for both a design patent and copyright law protection. If you have a valuable design you should consider both patenting the design by filing a design patent application and registering the design with the copyright office for dual protection.

That said, to qualify for copyright protection, an artist does not need to register it with the copyright office because it's automatic but registering it allows an artist to sue others who make unauthorized use of his artwork in federal court.

Copyright vs Design Patent Protection

At this point, you should know the difference between a copyright and a design patent. Copyright protection protects artistic works, such as paintings, songs, and movies. Design patents protect new and unique designs that are applied to an object, such as the way a product looks. Copyright protection allows the copyright holder to stop others from distributing and reproducing his artistic work without his permission. Design patents allow inventors to stop others from using, making, and selling an article that incorporates the patent holder's design. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


What are the parts of a patent application

What Are the Parts of a Patent Application?

What Are the Parts of a Patent Application?

According to the USPTO, a patent application has the following components or parts:

  • Patent Application Specification
    • Title of your invention
    • Cross-referencing related application(s)
    • Statement regarding public disclosure of the invention by the inventor(s)
    • Statement providing the field of the invention
    • Description of the related prior art
    • Brief Summary of the invention
    • Description of the invention's drawings
    • A detailed description of the invention
    • Invention claims
    • Abstract of the disclosure
  • Invention Drawings
  • Oath or declaration
  • Paying filing fee

We will now discuss each of the previously listed parts of a patent application in more detail below.

Title of Your Invention

The title for your invention should be placed on the heading of the first page of the specification. The title should describe the invention you're seeking to patent. If your invention performs a variety of functions, it may be difficult to name your invention, so if you have this problem, you may want to contact an attorney to find the most suitable title for your invention.

If you choose a title for your invention that does not accurately describe your invention, the patent examiner may request that you change the title. Also, you want to choose an appropriate title for your invention because it is the first thing that a patent examiner will look at, so making a good first impression is extremely important.

When creating a title for your invention, do not use words, such as "new" "improved" or "improvement of." Also, words such as "a," "an" and "the" should not be used in the title of your invention. If you use such words, the patent examiner may request that you change the title for your invention by removing them.

Note: The title for your invention must not exceed 500 characters in length. It's best to choose the shortest descriptive title that accurately tells the patent office and the public what your invention is all about.

Cross Referencing Related Patent Applications

You should cross-reference any related patent applications by including them in the Cross Reference section of your patent application. Cross-referencing a previously filed provisional patent application is important and mandatory if you want to benefit from the early filing date of your provisional patent application.

The reference to a provisional patent application can be done either in the patent application specification or the patent application datasheet.

You can cross-reference an earlier filed provisional patent application by including the following text:

"This application claims the benefit of U.S Provisional Patent Application ###,###,###, filed on January 1st, 2020."

You can cross-reference an earlier-filed nonprovisional patent application by including the following text:

"This application is a continuation of U.S Patent Application Number ###,###,###, filed on January 1st, 2020."

Statement Regarding the Public Disclosure Of the Invention by the Inventor(s)

As you may know, an inventor cannot patent an invention that he publicly disclosed or offered for sale more than 12 months prior to filing either a provisional or nonprovisional patent application. So, an inventor must include a statement that lists whether you publicly disclosed your invention prior to filing a patent application.

Publicly disclosing an invention includes publishing the invention online, writing about it in a magazine, and listing it on your website. If you publicly disclosed your invention, you should include such disclosure in your patent application.

Statement Providing the Field of the Invention

Every U.S patent application must include a statement as to the field that the subject matter of the claimed invention relates to. Applicants can title this section as the "Technical Field" of the invention. For example, if you want to patent a computer processor, the field would be "Electronic Digital Data Processing."

Description of Related Prior Art

Every applicant for a patent must conduct a prior art search prior to preparing his patent application. The applicant must include a description of the prior art that his related prior art search turned up.

Applicants should include prior art that's similar to their invention and how the invention they're currently seeking to patent differs from that art. Inventors can point to prior art and explain how their invention solves problems that prior art has not been able to solve.

Applicants can title this section as the "Background Art" section in their patent application.

Brief Summary of the Invention

According to the USPTO, every patent application should include a brief summary of the invention that comes before the detailed description of your invention.

The summary of your invention should be able to describe the specific invention you're seeking to protect to the public, as well as the patent examiner.

The summary of your invention should explain how your invention operates, as well as the purpose of your invention. When writing a summary for your invention, make sure to use easy to understand and clear terms.

You want an ordinary person to be able to understand what the invention you're patenting is.

Description of the Invention's Drawings

Most applicants will and should include drawings of their invention because drawings help fill in the gaps that are left by the written description. An applicant must provide a brief description of each of the included drawings.

When describing a drawing of an invention, an applicant should refer to the different drawings or figures by identifying the figure or drawing number. Applicants can refer to different parts of the same drawing by using reference numerals or letters.

A Detailed Description of the Invention

After you've prepared and included a brief description of the invention and a brief description of the drawings, it's time to add a detailed description of your invention.

You will know that you have satisfied the detailed description of your invention requirement if your description will enable a person skilled in the field of your invention to understand how to make your invention, as well as how to use it without having to experiment too much with it.

Invention Claims

Invention claims are usually added after the detailed description of the invention. No other material can be added to a sheet that has patent claims.

Every patent application should include claims, claiming the subject matter of the invention. Utility patents can include more than one patent claim. Patent applications typically have independent claims, as well as dependent claims.

Dependent claims usually refer to an independent claim and they limit the scope of the independent claim.

The broadest claims should be placed as the first claim, and all other, narrower claims should come after it.

Claims should be numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals.

If the patent examiner rejects and cancels a claim of an invention, the remaining claims should not be renumbered, they should retain their original numbering.

Abstract of the Disclosure

In the section after the patent claims, an inventor must include the abstract of the disclosure. The abstract of the disclosure is included to allow the public to quickly and easily get an idea of the nature and type of the invention disclosed in the patent application.

The abstract should disclose what's new about the invention. If your invention improves upon an existing invention, this should be pointed out in the abstract of the disclosure.

The abstract of the disclosure should identify the invention as one of the following:

  • A machine (how it operates)
  • An article (method for making it)
  • A chemical compound (identity and use of it)
  • A mixture of ingredients
  • A process (steps for the process)

The abstract of the disclosure should be included on a separate sheet of paper and organization wise, it should come after the claims of your invention.

Typically, abstracts should be no longer than 150 words, or one paragraph. The abstract should be concise and easy to understand.

If your abstract does not comply with these requirements, the patent office can reject it, requiring you to make changes before your patent application is examined.

Invention Drawings

Should You Include Them?

We often get asked whether a patent application should include drawings of an invention? The short answer is that drawings are required whenever they're necessary for the public or patent examiner to understand your invention.

Drawings are almost always required because they help explain how to make your invention and how to use it.

Drawings should show every feature of the invention you're claiming in your patent application.

Patent drawings must be included in your patent application because they cannot be added later because the patent office does not allow applicants to add new matters after an applicant's filing of his patent application.

Invention Drawing Requirements

The patent office requires that patent drawings be made with black ink on white paper. If you're filing your patent application online, you should save your patent drawings in PDF format. If you have drawings of your invention that you made by hand, you should scan your drawings and save them as a PDF and include them with your patent application.

Your invention drawings should be numbered, starting with 1, going up to whatever number of drawings you're including in your patent application.

All page numbers should be included on the top middle portion of the sheet of paper. That said, when we say the top, the number should not be placed in the top margin of the paper, instead, the number should be placed in the top middle portion of the sheet of paper after the margin.

Oath or Declaration

When preparing a patent application, an applicant must name the inventor or inventors responsible for inventing the invention claimed in a patent application.

According to the USPTO, every inventor for the invention claimed in the patent application must give an oath or declaration that (1) the application was made by or authorized by the declarant (person making the declaration), and (2) the person making the declaration believes himself to be the original inventor of the claimed invention.

Patent Application Fees

The patent application fees include:

  • Basic utility patent application filing fee: $75
  • Utility patent search fee: $165
  • Utility patent examination fee: $190
  • Utility patent issue fee: $250
  • Each claim in excess of 20 claims: $25
  • Each independent claim in excess of 3 claims: $115
  • Each additional 50 sheets in excess of 100 sheets: $100

What is the Most Important Part of a Patent Application?

The most important part of a patent application is the claims part of a patent application. Claims define the scope of the invention that's protected by the patent application. It defines what an inventor claims as his invention.

The claims portion of a patent application defines the scope of what the patent holder can stop others from doing with his invention. The broader the scope of a patent application, the more things a patent holder can restrict others from doing with his invention.

Parts of a Patent Application

At this point, you should know the different patent application parts. The USPTO has strict rules that must be followed by applicants for a utility patent and a design patent. Although the patent office allows inventors to prepare and file their own patent application, it does recommend that inventors hire an attorney to prepare, file, and prosecute their patent application. We covered all the main parts of a patent application. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.