U.S. Patent Law Basics


A patent is a property right granted by the Government to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.

U.S. patents may be applied for only in the name(s) of the actual inventor(s).

Utility patents can be applied for a new, nonobvious and useful:
Process
Machine
Article of manufacture
Composition of matter
Improvement of any of the above

Design patents can be applied for a new and nonobvious ornamental design of an article of manufacture.

Plant patents can be applied for asexually reproduced plant varieties.

Any patent application should be filed as soon as possible after the completion date of the invention.  An invention is complete when the inventor can provide a description that would be adequate for one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention.  By law, an application must be filed within one year of the date that the invention is known of, or used by others, or offered for sale and within six months in the case of design patents.

Patentability searches may be used to help determine whether the invention is patentable by researching the patent database and other publications to whether someone already came up with the idea.

A first time inventor, new to the patent process, may find useful a general overview of the US patent process that is available from the American Bar Association: Section on Intellectual Property Law at:
http://www.abanet.org/intelprop/comm106/106general.html




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