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.


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.


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.


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.


What is patent novelty?

What is Patent Novelty?

If you have a great invention or design that you want to patent you probably heard that your invention has to be novel in order for it to qualify for a patent. We will explain the novelty requirement in great detail below.

What is Patent Novelty?

For an inventor to be able to obtain a patent, he must show, among other things, that his invention is novel (new). The novelty requirement prohibits inventors from patenting inventions that have been patented in the past or inventions that an inventor has publicly disclosed, offered for sale, or sold more than one year prior to filing a patent application with the USPTO.

Said differently, if you want to patent an invention, you cannot patent something that has already been patented or an invention that you have publicly disclosed more than one year prior to filing a provisional or nonprovisional patent application.

The novelty requirement was added to prevent people from patenting the same inventions over and over again. If an inventor publicly disclosed his invention or offered it for sale more than one year prior to filing a patent application, he will not be allowed to patent it because the patent office considers it as prior art that prohibits patenting it.

So, does your invention pass the novelty test?

To determine whether your invention passes the novelty test, you should hire an attorney to perform a patent search (commonly known as a prior art search or a novelty search) and a search of public databases to determine whether someone has already disclosed or patented the invention you want to patent.

When conducting a prior art search, your attorney will do his best to prove that your invention is not new. Approaching a search this way allows your attorney to document similar inventions and discuss the differences (if any) between them and your invention.

Attorneys typically perform a prior art search by performing a search of the patent database and all relevant publications. For example, if you want to patent a glucose-measuring medical device, your attorney will search medical publications that discuss new glucose measuring technology.

That said, no prior art search is perfect, sometimes an attorney's search will not turn up any prior art even after a patent is granted.

So, once you've satisfied novelty, what else do you need to show to patent your invention?

In addition to the novelty requirement, an inventor must show that his invention has patentable subject matter, is nonobvious, and serves some useful purpose. The two most difficult requirements to satisfy are invention novelty and nonobviousness. Now that you know what novelty is, what's nonobviousness?

Nonobviousness requires an inventor to show that his invention was nonobvious at the time he filed his patent application. That is, the inventor has to show that an ordinary person, experienced in the field of the invention would not believe the invention to have been obvious.

For example, if you're developing a new drug that promises to cure cancer by combining new and unique ingredients that have never been combined before, you have a pretty good shot at satisfying the nonobviousness requirement.

That said, this is just an example we used to illustrate the nonobviousness requirement, your invention does not have to be this nonobvious to qualify for a patent, nevertheless, it has to satisfy this requirement.

Now back to patent novelty, why is it important? Read below to find out.

Why is Patent Novelty Important?

Patent novelty is important because it prevents people from re-patenting inventions that were already patented. Just imagine a world where a patent on an invention expires and another party patents the same invention. Patents on inventions would last forever.

This is why we have a novelty requirement, to prevent patents from lasting indefinitely. This frees up technology and allows inventors to improve upon technology that was once patented.

The second benefit of having a patent novelty requirement is that it prevents others from patenting inventions that have already been disclosed to the public. For example, if you publish new battery technology in a car magazine, others won't be able to patent it after you've published it because it's considered as prior art that prevents patenting publicly disclosed inventions.

How Do You Keep Your Invention Novel?

If you don't want your invention to become prior art, here are a few tips:

  • Don't discuss your invention with anyone, including friends and family
  • Don't publish your invention on any websites, magazines, or journals
  • Don't offer your invention for sale
  • If you need to talk about your invention with anyone have them sign a confidentiality agreement
  • Don't sell your invention

Now that you know what you shouldn't do to keep your invention novel, what if someone discloses your invention?

If someone publicly discloses your invention, you should immediately prepare and file a patent application with the patent office. Filing a provisional patent application is a quick way to protect your invention by obtaining an early filing date.

Once you have a filing date, anyone else who submits a patent application to the patent office after you've filed a patent application won't be able to patent the same invention.

Confidentiality Agreement

If you need the assistance of anyone with your invention and you're still not ready to file your patent application, consider having a party sign a confidential agreement before disclosing your invention to them. By having them sign a confidentiality agreement, you're not publicly disclosing your invention.

That said, confidentiality agreements are not perfect because sometimes a party to an agreement may not keep your invention confidential. So, if someone discloses your invention, you should immediately contact an attorney and ask them about filing a provisional application to secure a filing date for your invention.

Securing a filing date is really important in the U.S because it uses a "first to file system" that awards the patent to the first person who files a patent application with the USPTO. So, it's best to contact a licensed patent attorney and ask them about the option of filing a provisional application.

Filing a Provisional Application

Inventors often choose to file a provisional patent application instead of filing a regular, nonprovisional utility patent application to protect their invention because provisional applications are much easier to prepare and file, they're also a lot less expensive than nonprovisional applications.

Provisional applications are great in the U.S because they allow inventors to secure an early filing date for their invention while they continue to work on their invention.

While the patent office allows inventors to prepare and file provisional patent applications on their own, they do recommend that applicants hire a patent attorney to assist them. They make this recommendation because patent law is complex and making minor mistakes could cause costly problems down the road.

One thing to note is that provisional applications do not turn into patents, so if you file a provisional application to secure an early filing date for your invention, remember that you need to file a nonprovisional utility application to patent your invention.

That said, once you file a provisional application, you have 12 months to file a regular patent application. If you don't file a regular, nonprovisional application within the 12 month grace period, your application will be abandoned and you will lose the benefit of your early filing date, so don't forget to file a regular application!

Check out this awesome, straightforward guide to filing a provisional patent application.

That said, before filing a provisional patent application, you may want to speak to your attorney and ask them about how you should proceed with protecting your invention.

Novelty Abroad

You may or may not know that a patent issued by the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) only protects inventors in the United States. That is, an inventor can only restrict others from using, making, selling, and importing the invention to the United States.

A U.S patent does not offer protection in countries other than the U.S. So, if you want protection abroad, you will need to file a patent application in the country where you want protection.

Other countries aren't as forgiving as the United States. The U.S gives inventors a 12 month grace period to file a patent application after disclosing their invention, other countries require absolute novelty, meaning that the invention has never been disclosed or offered for sale.

Many European countries require absolute novelty, meaning that if the inventor or any other party publicly discloses the invention anywhere in the world, the inventor will be barred from patenting his invention.

So, if you anticipate that you want protection overseas, make sure that you do not disclose your invention to anyone, as disclosing it make cost you the opportunity to patent your invention.

Novelty Requirement to Patent an Invention

At this point, you should know that to patent your invention or design, it must be novel, meaning that your invention has never been publicly disclosed by you or others. Also, you must not have sold or offered the invention for sale more than 12 months prior to filing a patent application with the patent office.

That said, if you want to protect your invention, research the patent laws where you want to patent your invention because some countries don't allow any disclosure of the invention before patenting it. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


Patent infringement statute of limitation in the us

Patent Infringement Statute of Limitations (U.S)

If you've spent a ton of money and time patenting your invention, you might be wondering how much time you have to bring a lawsuit against a party that infringed upon your patent. We will discuss everything you need to know about the US patent infringement statute of limitations.

Patents allow inventors to stop others from using, making and selling the patent invention for a limited period of time. Utility patents grants this right to inventors for 20 years and design patents grant this right to inventors for 15 years.

That said, if a party infringes upon an inventor's patent by using, making, or selling the patented invention without the patent holders express permission, the patent holder can bring a lawsuit against that party. However, the patent holder must do so within a certain window, otherwise, he will be barred to do so by the patent statute of limitations. We will discuss this in more detail below.

What is the Patent Infringement Statute of Limitations?

The patent infringement statute of limitations limits the amount of time that a patent holder has to bring a lawsuit against a party that infringes upon his patent. In the United States, patent holders have six years to bring a lawsuit against a party for patent infringement. That is, a patent holder has 6 years to file a complaint against someone who has infringed upon his patent.

Once 6 years pass since the patent infringement pass, a patent holder will no longer be able to bring a lawsuit against an infringer because he will be barred by the patent statute of limitations.

So, if you suspect that someone is using your intellectual property without your permission, you should immediately contact a patent attorney to discuss your legal options. Don't sit around and do nothing because if you don't file your lawsuit within the time limit we discussed, your lawsuit will likely be dismissed for violating the statute of limitations.

That said, the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) will not police your patent for you. It is the patent holder's job to find those who are infringing upon his patent and bring a lawsuit against them in federal court.

We know that sometimes discovering infringement is difficult, especially in situations where the infringer does a good job of hiding the infringement. Unfortunately, if you discover the infringement more than six years after it occurs, you are unlikely going to recover damages in your lawsuit. Therefore, it's important that you proactively look for infringement and promptly enforce your rights.

If you file a lawsuit more than 6 years after they infringed upon your patent, they will most likely respond by asserting the statute of limitations as a defense against your claim. This relieves them from having to fight your lawsuit on the grounds that your patent is not valid.

What is a Patent Infringement Lawsuit?

A patent infringement lawsuit is a lawsuit that is initiated by a patent holder against a party that infringes upon or uses his patent without the patent holder's express permission. As we mentioned previously, a party cannot use, make, sell, and important a patented invention to the United States without the patent holder's express permission.

If a party makes an authorized use of a patent holder's permission, the patent holder has 6 years to bring a lawsuit against the infringer. Of course, if a patent holder brings a lawsuit against an infringer, infringers typically reply by arguing that (1) they are not infringing upon the patent or (2) the patent is not valid and therefore there is no infringement.

Why Do Patent Holders Sue For Patent Infringement

Patent holders sue for patent infringement for a variety of reasons. Among those reasons is to stop others from using and selling the patented product and the second reason is to recover damages incurred as a result of patent infringement.

If you suspect that someone is infringing upon your intellectual you can hire a patent attorney who will analyze your claim. If the attorney finds that a party is indeed infringing upon your intellectual proeprty (IP), he will often send a cease and desis letter and attempt to negotiate a stellement with the infringer.

If that does not work, your attorney may proceed to file a lawsuit against the infringer in federal court. If your lawsuit is indeed successful and the court could award you monetary damages you sustained as a result of the infringement, as well as injunctive relief in the form of a court order, ordering the infringer to cease the infringing activities.

Courts often award patent holders who succeed in their lawsuit monetary damages in the form of royalties and lost profits.

Royalties basically allow the patent holder to recover the fair market value of a license that the infringer would have had to purchase from the patent holder to use the patented invention. For example, if a party develops a new type of braking system and I use it in my car, the court looks at how much I would have had to pay to use the patented technology in my car and make me pay it to the patent holder.

That said, an inventor may recover lost profits. Said differently, the court may award a patent holder a sum of the profits that a patent holder lost as a result of the infringer's infringing conduct. To qualify for such damages, a patent holder must show that he actually lost money as a result of the infringing activity.

How to Sue For Patent Infringement?

If you want to sue a party for infringement, you can do so by contacting a patent attorney experienced in patent litigation. Your attorney may start off by negotiating with the infringer and if the infringer does not cooperate your attorney may advise you to file a lawsuit against the infringer.

If you and your attorney decide to bring a lawsuit against the infringer, your attorney will need your assistance in gathering information about your invention and the harm you suffered as a result of the infringer's activities.

Once your attorney has sufficient information, he will draft a patent infringement complaint against the infringer. Once he's finished drafting the complaint, he will file it with a federal court and serve it upon the infringer.

The defendant named in your complaint will have 21 days to respond or file an answer to your complaint. Defendants typically respond to patent infringement complaints by asserting that they are not infringing upon your patent or that your patent is not valid. So, you should be ready to prove that your patent is valid and that any claims by the defendant concerning the validity of your patent are incorrect.

Utility Patent Infringement

If a party infringes upon a patent holder's utility patent by using, making, sell, or importing the inventor's patented invention to the United States, the patent holder can sue the infringer for patent infringement. The patent holder may recover royalties or lost profits that resulted from the infringing activities of the defendant.

For an inventor to recover for an infringement of his patent, he will only need to show that the defendant infringed upon his patent, he is not required to show that the defendant copied his invention or even knew about the patent he copied or used. Patent infringement is a strict liability crime. If an infringer's invention functions or works the same way as yours, you will be able to recover damages for patent infringement.

Design Patent Infringement

If a party infringes upon a patent holder's design patent by using, making, selling, or importing a product that copies the patent holder's design, the patent holder will be able to sue the infringer for patent infringement in federal district court.

To determine design patent infringement, federal courts apply the ordinary observer test. Under this standard, the infringing product and the inventor's design are placed side to side for comparison. If an ordinary observer finds the designs to be the same or similar, the patent holder wins and will be able to recover damages for patent infringement.

Statute of Limitations For Patent Infringement

By now, you should know that if you own a patent, it's your responsibility to enforce your patent because the patent office won't enforce it for you. If you find someone infringing upon your patent, you must file a patent infringement lawsuit with a federal district court within 6 years of the patent infringement. If you wait longer than 6 years, the court will bar your lawsuit from going forward. That said, if you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


Can you patent a hair product?

Can You Patent a Hair Product?

If you've just finished working on an awesome hair care product that promises more volume, less frizziness, and no more split ends or you've invented a new haircare tool, you might be wondering if you can patent it? The USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) allows inventors of new products, machines, processes, and composition of matter to protect their invention with a patent.

A patent allows inventors to stop others from using, making, and selling the patented product without the patent holder's express permission for a limited period of time, usually 20 years in the case of utility patents. So, can you patent a hair product? We will answer this below.

Can You Patent a Hair Product?

Yes, you can patent a hair product if (1) it has a patentable subject matter, (2) is novel (new), nonobvious, and has a useful purpose. For your hair care product to qualify for patent protection, you must prepare and file a patent application that meets the requirements set forth by the patent office. We will discuss each of these elements in more detail below.

Having said that, two of the biggest challenges you will face patenting your hair product is satisfying the novelty element and nonobviousness requirement.

It's difficult in today's day and age to show that a product is new and nonobvious mainly because the hair care industry is so competitive and many of the ingredients have already been incorporated into some hair care product and many of the tools have been invented.

That said, if you have a new tool, such as a new type of hair straightener, you might have an easier time patenting it than you would with a new type of hair gel or shampoo.

Some inventors choose not to patent their invention because patenting an invention requires complete disclosure of how to make the invention. So, if you've developed a new type of shampoo, you will have to disclose the formula and how to make the formula to the patent office. Some people are not willing to do this to keep their formula secret.

Preparing and Filing a Patent Application

If you have an invention (hair product) that you know you can profit from, you should contact an attorney to assist you with the preparation and filing of your patent application.

Although the patent office allows inventors to prepare and file their own patent application, they do recommend that inventors seek the help of an attorney to patent their invention. This is so because patent law is quite complex and there are some requirements that need to be satisfied when preparing and filing a patent application.

Just remember, for your invention (hair product) to qualify for a patent, it must satisfy the following 4 requirements. We will discuss these requirements in more detail below.

  • Hair product must have patentable subject matter
  • It must be novel (meaning it must be new)
  • It must be nonobvious
  • It must serve some useful purpose

We will discuss each of these elements in more detail below.

Your Hair Product Must Have Patentable Subject Matter

To obtain a patent on a hair product, the hair product must have patentable subject matter, meaning the product must be something for which the patent office offers a patent.

For example, if you have a new type of hair straightener or a new type of shampoo, you may be able to patent them because they have qualifying subject matter. The hair straightener may qualify for a utility patent if it has a new type of functionality that has never been patented before. Also, a new shampoo may qualify for a patent because new and unique mixtures of ingredients are patentable subject matter. That said, you still have to satisfy the remaining requirements.

Hair Product Novelty

To be able to patent a hair care product, patent law requires the product, whether it's a formula or an invention to be novel. Said differently, the invention must be, meaning that no one has ever patented or publicly disclosed the product you're seeking to patent.

So, for a formula, such as a formula for a shampoo or hair gel, the formula has to be new. This does not mean that every ingredient has to be new, but that the combination of ingredients is new. That said, if you do have a new ingredient, this may help show that your formula is indeed new.

For a product, such as a straightener or new type of comb, you'll also have to show that the product is new. When determining whether an invention is new, an applicant should perform a patent search to determine whether someone has already patented or publicly disclosed the invention you're seeking to patent.

Hair Product Nonobviousness

The third requirement an inventor will have to satisfy to patent a hair product is that the hair product be nonobvious. That is, an inventor must show that the product was no obvious to a person who is skilled in the field of the product.

For example, if you're seeking to patent a new shampoo formula, you have to show that the shampoo formula was not something that an ordinary person, skilled in the shampoo industry, would have found to be obvious.

Adding more of an ingredient, such as more argan oil, which has already been added to hundreds of shampoos, will not make your shampoo nonobvious. The ingredients have to be unexpected. Although developing a new ingredient is not required to obtain a patent, adding a newly developed will make patenting your product much easier.

That said, a product such as a new curling iron may more easily qualify for a patent. But, you will still have to show that it is nonobvious at the time you file a patent application.

Hair Product Must Be Useful

The final element an applicant has to satisfy to patent a hair product is useful. That is, an applicant must show that the hair product is useful. Although the patent office rarely rejects patent applications on the grounds that an invention is not useful.

To show usefulness, an applicant must show that the hair product has some identifiable benefit. For example, if you have a new type of shampoo, you may have to show that it reduces frizziness or creates more volume.

If you have a hair straightener, the useful purpose would be that it helps straighten hair, which is something that people in society look for from a product. An applicant should explain how the product to be patented benefits the end-user and how the end-user can use the patented product.

Hire a Lawyer or Patent Agent

The only real way to know whether your invention is patentable is to contact an experienced patent attorney, sit down with them, and explain your invention to them. Most attorneys are experienced and will be able to offer you advice for your specific situation.

Patenting a product can be a complex process, so having an attorney that understands the process is a must for anyone seeking to patent an invention.

If you want to patent your invention but don't have the money to hire an attorney, you have the option of hiring a patent agent. Patent agents are qualified and registered with the patent office to assist inventors with patenting their invention.

Filing a Provisional Patent Application First

Some inventors opt to file a provisional patent application instead of a regular, nonprovisional patent application because provisional applications are easier to prepare and cost less. Filing a provisional application allows inventors to obtain an early filing date at the patent office and use the words "patent pending" on the product immediately after filing an application.

That said, provisional applications do not turn into patents, so eventually, an inventor must file a regular patent application within 12 months of filing a provisional application to obtain a patent. If an applicant does not file a regular patent application within 12 months of filing a provisional application, the provisional application is considered to have been abandoned.

Steps to Patent a Hair Product

  • Hire an attorney
  • Perform a patent search
  • Prepare a utility patent application
  • File your utility patent application with the patent office
  • Track the status of your application
  • Have your attorney respond to any communications from the patent office

Why Should You Patent a Hair Product?

Inventors of new hair products should patent them because patenting an invention allows inventors to control who uses, makes, and sells the hair product. As a patent holder, you will be able to stop others from making, using, and selling the patented product for a limited period of time. Utility patents last for 20 years from the date an inventor submits a utility patent application.

If another party copies, makes, or sells your patent hair product, as a patent holder, you will be able to ask them to stop their infringing use, if they do not stop doing so, you will be able to bring a lawsuit against them in federal court for patent infringement.

Note: It is not the USPTO's job to police your patent for you. So, if you find that someone is infringing upon your patent, it's your job as the patent holder to find infringers and bring a lawsuit against them.

Patenting a Hair Product

So, now we know that patenting a hair product is possible, so long as the hair product has a patentable subject matter, is new, is nonobvious, and serves some useful purpose. Every situation is different, so you should consult with your own attorney and ask them for their opinion on the patentability of your specific product. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


What is a patent assignment?

What is a Patent Assignment?

Whether you're curious about assigning a patent to someone else or having a patent assigned to you, you might be wondering what a patent assignment is? Patent law allows patent holders to assign patents to other parties. Patent assignments often take place between an employee and his company, however, it's not uncommon for a person to assign his interest to a patent to a third party. So, what exactly is a patent assignment? We will cover this below.

What is a Patent Assignment?

A patent assignment is an agreement by the patent holder (assignor) to transfer his interest and ownership of a patent to another party known as the assignee (party receiving patent rights). Once a patent holder executes an assignment agreement assigning his interest in a patent to another party, the assignor loses his rights under the patent. The assignor (transferor) will no longer be able to stop others from using, making, and selling the patent invention. Instead, the assignee gains these rights.

In the United States, patent assignments are very common between an employee and his company because a company or business cannot apply for a patent. An inventor has to apply for a patent and then the inventor then assigns his interest under a patent to the company for which he is working.

An assignment transfers the ownership of the patent from the inventor or employee to the company for which he is working. That said, assignments can also be made by any two parties that agree to transfer ownership of a patent.

So, now we know that a patent holder can transfer his patent rights to a third party, can an inventor assign a pending patent application? Absolutely, yes! An inventor can assign his rights under a pending patent application to another party.

If you're an inventor and you want to assign your patent to another party, just remember that patent assignments are final. Once an inventor assigns (transfers) his interest in a patent to another party, the assignment (transfer of rights) cannot be undone, it's final.

What is a Patent Assignor?

A patent assignor is a party that transfers it's interest and right to the patent to the transferee (assignee) or the party receiving the patent. Once an agreement is executed and recorded with the patent office, the assignee becomes the patent right holder.

What is a Patent Assignee?

A patent assignee is a person to whom the patent rights are transferred to. Said differently, the assignee is the new owner of the patent. An assignee should immediately record an assignment agreement with the patent office to establish his rights as the new patent owner.

Requirements to Execute a Patent Assignment Agreement

For a patent holder to assign (transfer) his interest in a patent to another party, the assignor (person transferring patent rights) must execute a written agreement that includes details, such as the name of the assignor and the assignee, as well as the patent that is to be assigned (transferred) to the assignee.

Once the assignment agreement is executed, it must be filed with the USPTO for the agreement to take effect. Please remember that the agreement needs to be in writing, oral agreements are not sufficient to transfer the rights from the patent holder to the assignee.

The assignment agreement must include the following information:

  • The agreement must contain the legal names of both the assignor (person transferring patent rights) and the assignee (person receiving patent rights).
  • The agreement must clearly identify the patent by stating the name of the patent, as well as the patent number.
  • The terms of the agreement must be included in the assignment agreement.
  • Both the assignor(s) and assignee(s) must sign the agreement.

Who Owns the Patent After a Patent Assignment?

Once the assignor and assignee execute an assignment agreement and file the assignment with the USPTO, the assignee owns the patent. As the new patent owner, the assignee will have the right to stops others from using, making, and selling the patented invention for the remaining patent term.

The assignor (person who transferred his rights) loses his rights under the patent and will no longer be able to enforce the patent. Assigning a patent is similar to selling a car and registering the title in someone else's name. Once the patent is assigned, similar to registering the title of a vehicle in someone else's name, the new owner is the assignee (person to whom the patent was transferred to). Once the assignment is recorded with the patent office, the records will be updated to show the assignee (new owner) of the patent. This information will then be made available to the public.

Assigning a Patent vs Licensing a Patent

Assigning a patent is much different than licensing a patent. When a patent holder assigns his interest in a patent to another party, he is usually transferring ownership of the patent to the other party. Patent licensing is different in that a license is merely a transfer of the right to use the patent in the manner specified in the licensing agreement. Assignments transfer ownership while a license transfers the right to use the patented invention. That said, if a patent is assigned, the information of the assignor and assignee will become part of the public record. Whereas if an inventor licenses his patent, that information is not typically published to the public.

Does a Patent Assignment Need to be Notarized?

The USPTO does not require patent assignments to be notarized. The patent office only requires that the assignment be executed and signed by both the assignor and the assignee. Once an agreement is executed and signed by the parties, the assignment must be recorded with the patent office.

If the assignee fails to record the assignment, there is nothing to protect the assignee from the assignor assigning the patent to a third party. So, if you're an assignee, make sure to record your assignment as soon as it's executed to avoid problems.

Although a patent assignment does not need to be notarized, notarizing it can be beneficial in the event that the previous patent holder claims that he did not make the assignment. It's an added layer of protection that could prove to be very valuable.

Can Multiple People Own a Patent?

Yes, multiple people can own a patent. For example, if three inventors make a single invention, all three are considered joint inventors and their names should appear on the patent application, as well as the issued patent.

If there are multiple inventors on a patent application, all inventors must execute an assignment agreement to assign each of their interest to the assignee for the assignee to own the entire patent.

For example, if only 1 of 3 inventors assigns his interest, the assignment would be a partial assignment until all 3 inventors each assign (transfer) their interest to the assignee.

Patent Assignment Tips

1) Hire an Attorney to Assist You with Your Patent Assignment

Any individual who's either an assignor or assignee should hire an attorney to assist with the assignment of a patent. Attorneys will ensure that the assignment agreement complies with the law and contains all of the information that is required for a successful patent assignment. Although it's not unheard of for parties to execute an assignment agreement on their own, making a mistake could cause legal troubles down the road.

2) Don't Forget to Record A Patent Assignment

If you have been assigned a patent, don't forget to record your assignment with the USPTO. We say this because patent assignments don't go into effect unless the assignment is recorded with the patent office. Recording a patent assignment tells the patent office that you are the new owner of the patent.

If an assignee does not record the assignment with the patent office, it is as if the assignment never took place. Also, if it's not recorded, the assignor could possibly assign the patent to a third party. So, make sure to record your assignment as quick as possible.

3) Notarize Your Assignment Agreement

It's good practice to have an assignment agreement notarized. This helps in a situation where the assignor claims that he did not execute the assignment agreement. In the event that an assignor claims he did not execute the assignment agreement, you will have evidence to show otherwise. The burden may shift to the assignor to prove that he did not execute the assignment agreement. So, notarize your agreement, as well as other documents relating to the assignment of a patent.

4) How Much Does it Cost to Record an Assignment with the USPTO?

It's currently free to record an assignment with the USPTO if a party submits the assignment electronically. However, if a party chooses to record the assignment agreement by paper, there is a $50 fee for the service. So, record your assignment online if you want to avoid paying anything. That said, you may need to publish your assignment in an official gazette, such publication does cost $25.

Patent Assignment

Let's do a quick recap. A patent assignment is the transfer of ownership of a patent from one party to another. The party transferring its right is known as the assignor and the party receiving the patent rights is known as the assignee.

To assign a patent, both parties must execute a written assignment agreement to reflect the transfer of ownership. Once the parties execute the agreement, they must record it with the patent office to establish the new ownership. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


What are patent maintenance fees?

What Are Patent Maintenance Fees?

What Are Patent Maintenance Fees?

If you have a utility patent or you're thinking about getting one, you might have heard about maintenance fees. People often refer to patent maintenance fees as patent renewal fees and patent annual fees. So, what are patent maintenance fees? Patent Maintenance fees are patent office fees that must be paid at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years to the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) to keep a patent as granted. Patent maintenance fees start at $800 at 3.5 years, $1,800 at 7.5 years, and $3,700 at 11.5 years. So, if you're figuring out the budget for your patent, you should take into consideration the maintenance fees that need to be paid to keep the patent active.

If an inventor fails to pay the patent the mandatory maintenance fees, the patent expires. However, the patent office does offer patent holders a 6-month grace during which he can pay the maintenance fees. For example, if a patent holder fails to pay the $800 maintenance fee at the 3.5-year mark, the patent office gives the inventor a 6 month grace period during which to pay the fees, in addition to a late fee. If a patent holder completely fails to pay the maintenance fee after the 6 month grace period, the patent expires.

So, if the patent office grants your utility patent, make sure not to miss the maintenance fees. The first maintenance fee you have to pay is at the 3.5-year mark, paying this fee will keep your patent granted until the 7.5-year mark when you will have to pay the second maintenance fee.

After paying the final maintenance fee payment at 11.5 years, your utility patent will remain granted until it expires at the 20-year mark. The patent term for utility patents is 20 years from the date an inventor files his patent application with the patent office. During the 20-year patent term, a holder of a utility patent will be able to stop others from using, making, and selling the patented invention or product until the patent term expires.

Who Has to Pay Maintenance Fees?

Not all patent holders have to pay maintenance fees, only holders of utility patents are required to pay maintenance fees. Design patents and plant patents do not require patent holders to pay maintenance fees. As unfortunate as it is, only utility patent holders must pay maintenance fees at the intervals we covered above.

How Often are Maintenance Fees Due?

Here is a list of the maintenance fees that are due on every utility patent that's granted by the USPTO.

Utility patent holders must pay the following maintenance fees:

  • 3.5 Years: $800
  • 7.5 Years: $1,800
  • 11.5 Years: $3,700

These maintenance fees are calculated from the date the patent office grants the utility patent. So, the fees are required 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years after a utility patent is granted by the USPTO. As previously mentioned, inventors have a 6 month grace period during which to pay the required fees. Be careful though as the late fees can be painful, so paying your maintenance fees on time will save you a ton of money.

Also, the maintenance fees you pay depend on the size of your business. So, if you're a business that has less than 500 employees, you may have to pay less to maintain your patent.

If you qualify as a micro-entity you may need to pay the following fees:

  • 3.5 Years: $400
  • 7.5 Years: $900
  • 11.5 Years: $1,850

Why Do Inventors Have to Pay Maintenance Fees?

The USPTO charges maintenance fees for two main reasons. The first reason they charge them is to generate revenue to operate the patent office. A portion of the maintenance fees goes to fund the examination of patent applications. The second main reason the patent office charges maintenance fees is to free up inventions and new technology.

By charging maintenance fees, inventors who don't want to pay them or can't pay them will have their patents expire. Once the patent expires, the invention falls into the public domain, allowing others to use and improve upon the patented technology. This promotes innovation and makes way for other inventors to create new technology that's based on inventions, machines, and processes that were once patented.

Should You Pay Maintenance Fees?

If you have an invention that you're making good money from, then absolutely yes! pay the maintenance fees and keep your patent active. Paying the maintenance fees on time allows inventors to continue to stop their competitors and anyone else from using, making, and selling the patented product without their express permission. But we understand that not all inventions are successful.

So, if you've invented something and you've been unable to commercialize the patented product or invention, then you may consider not paying the maintenance fees to keep the patent granted.

We know it's a hard decision to make, especially if you've paid a ton of money to get a patent, but if you can't make money from your invention, ask your attorney about cutting your losses by not paying the maintenance fees on the patent. Your attorney should be able to explain the consequences of not paying the required maintenance fees. That said, if you have an invention and you believe it's valuable, try looking for companies that may be interested in purchasing your patent or licensing it.

Paying Maintenance Fees vs. Not Paying Maintenance Fees

We will keep this short and sweet. If you pay the maintenance fees, you will be able to continue to have control over who uses, makes, and sells your invention or product because your patent will remain granted. If you fail to pay the maintenance fees within the 6 month grace period, your patent will lapse (expire) and others will be free to use and selling your patent invention or product with obtaining your permission.

So, if you have an invention that is successful, make sure to pay the maintenance fees on time. The fees are not optional, they are mandatory and must be paid to maintain your patent and your right to restrict others from exploiting your invention by either using it, making it, and selling it.

What Can You Do If You Fail to Pay Maintenance Fees on Time?

If you fail to pay the maintenance fees on a patent at any of intervals, the patent office a 6 month grace period during which you can pay the maintenance fees that are due. However, if you pay late you will have to pay a late payment fee. That said, if you don't pay the required fees within the 6 month grace period, you will have to file a patent reinstatement petition to reinstate your patent as granted.

Here are the requirements to reinstate a patent:

  • The delay in paying the maintenance fee was unintentional,
  • Payment of the required maintenance fee,
  • Payment for the petition to reinstate your patent to its grant state,
  • A signed statement that your nonpayment of maintenance fees was unintentional,
  • The petition must be signed

Note: Filing a petition for reinstatement of a patent does not guarantee that the patent office will reinstate a patent. The patent office may refuse to reinstate your patent. If the patent office refuses to reinstate your patent, they will refund your maintenance fees. Also, if you've missed more than one maintenance fee payment (remember there are 3 required throughout the life of a utility patent), you must file a petition for every missed maintenance fee payment. Also, if the patent office refuses to reinstate your patent, the petition filing fee is not refunded, only maintenance fees will be refunded.

How to Check the Status of Your Patent?

You can check the status of your patent by heading over to the USPTO website and using the PAIR System (Public Patent Application Information Retrieval System). You can search for your patent by using either the patent number or the patent application. Both of these numbers can be located at the top portion of your patent application.

Can a Patent Be Renewed After it Expires?

If a patent expires for failing to pay maintenance fees, a patent holder may be able to renew the patent by filing a petition to reinstate the patent, however, if an invention expires because the patent term has ended, it cannot be renewed. Design patents don't have maintenance fees, so they usually expire because the patent term has ended, like utility patents, once a design patent expires, it cannot be renewed.

Patent Maintenance Fees

By now, you should know that patent maintenance fees, commonly known as patent renewal fees or patent annual fees, must be made at pre-determined times in order for an inventor to keep his patented as granted at the patent office. If an inventor fails to pay the maintenance fees, he has a 6 month grace period in which to pay the maintenance fees. If the fees are not paid within this grace period, the patent expires. If the patent expires, it falls into the public domain where anyone can use and make the patented invention without having to obtain the express permission of the patent holder. If you have any general questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.