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Patents are forms of intellectual property which protect new machines, articles, substances, or processes. Inventors are protected by exclusive rights allowed by the federal government through patents. Useful inventions that may qualify for a patent are a process, a machine, a manufacture, a composition of matter, or an improvement of one of these.
An inventor must apply for a patent in order to receive protection for their invention. There is a one year window for applying for a patent and it must occur before publicly disclosing the invention. A preliminary patent search is typically done before applying for a patent. If an inventor suspects that someone else is using his/her patented invention without authorization, he/she may be able to bring a lawsuit upon them. If the inventor wins the case, they may be awarded patent holder costs, attorney's fees, and other damages. Calling an action for infringement can be time-consuming and costly.
Getting patent protection can be helpful as a way to protect your invention. Securing a patent lawyer is critical in case you suspect someone else has been using your patented invention to their own benefit without your permission. A patent lawyer can assist you in drafting the patent application and give you advice during the application process. A patent lawyer may also help you bring on an infringement case.
Patents grant an inventor the right to exclude others from producing or using the inventor's discovery or invention for a limited period of time. U.S. patent laws were enacted by Congress under its Constitutional grant of authority to protect the discoveries of inventors. See U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8. The main body of law concerning patents is found in Title 35 of the United States Code. In order to be patented an invention must be novel, useful, and not of an obvious nature. See 101 - 103 of Title 35. Such "utility" patents are issued for four general types of inventions/discoveries: machines, human made products, compositions of matter, and processing methods. See 101 of Title 35. Changing technology has led to an ever expanding understanding of what constitutes a human made product. Specific additions to the Patent Act provide, in addition, for design and plant patents.
Prior to a recent amendment prompted by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) accompanying the Uruguay Round GATT, patents were normally issued for a non-renewable period of seventeen years, measured from the date of issuance. See 154 of Title 35. Under the amended provision (which took effect June 8, 1995) the term will be twenty years measured from the date of application.
Patent infringement cases arise under Federal patent law over which the Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. See 1338(a) of Title 28 of The United States Code.
The Federal agency charged with administering patent laws is the Patent and Trademark Office. See 1-26 of Title 35. Its regulations, pertaining to Patents, are found in Parts 2 - 6 of Title 37 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Each patent application for an alleged new invention is reviewed by a examiner to determine if it is entitled to a patent. See 1.104 of Part 1 of Title 37 (C.F.R.). While historically a model was required as part of a patent application, in most cases today, only a detailed specification is necessary. See 112 - 114 of Title 35.
If an application is rejected, the decision may be appealed to the Patents Office's Board of Appeals, with further or alternative review available from the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, or in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. See 134, 141, & 145 of Title 35.
In 1975 the Patent Cooperation Treaty was incorporated into Title 35. See 351 - 376 of Title 35.
If you have any questions about the information provided above, please contact the Legal Information Institute.
If you suspect someone else is using an invention you have under patent, or if you need to file for a patent contact Attorney Search Network today. Attorney Search Network can refer you to an intellectual property lawyer near you who can assist you in all patent questions and concerns.
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