What can be patented?
An invention is patentable if it is novel, non-obvious, and useful. Novel, of coarse means new. Non-obvious is determined by guessing if someone who is skilled in the art would not have thought of the idea easily. A new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement may be eligible for patent protection. Methods making use of concepts and ideas may be eligible for patent protection. On the other hand, concepts and ideas per se are not patentable.
Can someone patent a naturally occurring substance?
Not in its natural state. However, a natural substance that has never before been isolated or known may be patentable in some instances, but only in its isolated form. A variation of a naturally occurring substance may be patentable if an inventor is able to demonstrate substantial non-obvious modifications that offer significant advantages in using the variant.
What is the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)?
The USPTO is the federal agency, organized under the department of Commerce, that administers patents on behalf of the government. The USPTO employs patent examiners skilled in all technical fields in order to appraise patent applications. The USPTO also issues federal trademark registrations. The examiners will argue against an invention as being novel, non-obvious, and useful. Using the standards outlined in the Patent laws, the examiners will object and limit claims based upon these arguments.
What is the definition of an inventor on a patent and who determines this?
Under U.S. law, an inventor is a person who takes part in the conception of the ideas in the patent claims of a patent application. Thus, inventorship may change as the patent claims are changed during prosecution of the application. An employer or person who furnishes money to build or practice an invention is not an inventor.
Who is responsible for patenting?
The TTO contracts with outside patent counsel for patent protection, thus assuring access to patent specialists in diverse technology areas. Inventors work with the patent counsel in drafting the patent applications and responses to patent offices in the countries in which patents are filed.
Who owns the University Intellectual property?
All IP is assigned to the University as dictated by University policy.
What is a provisional application?
A provisional patent establishes a priority date with the USPTO. A provisional application is merely a time stamp showing the Patent Office when you officially filed your idea but does not begin the examination process. It gives the inventor one year window in which to file a application to the U.S. or foreign countries. During this time the inventor can further develop the invention determine marketability, acquire funding or capitol or seek licensing agreements. If a non-provisional patent is not filed within one year of the provisional application, then this application and priority are abandoned.
What is the patent process?
Patent applications are generally drafted by a patent attorney or a patent agent. The patent attorney or agent generally will ask you to review an application before it is filed and will also ask you questions about inventorship of the application claims. At the time an application is filed, the patent attorney will ask the inventor(s) to sign an Inventor Declaration and an Assignment under which the inventor(s) assigns his or her rights in the patent to the University. Within 12-24 months, depending on the technology, the patent attorney will receive written notice from the USPTO as to whether the application and its claims have been accepted as patentable in the form as filed. More often than not, the USPTO rejects the application because either certain formalities need to be cleared up, or claims are not patentable over the prior art. The letter sent by the USPTO is referred to as an office action. If the application is rejected the patent attorney must file a written response usually within three to six months. Generally the attorney may amend the claims and/or point out why the PTO position is incorrect. This procedure is referred to as patent prosecution. Often it will take two PTO office actions and two responses from the attorney before the application is resolved. The resolution can take the form of a PTO notice that the application is allowable (they issue a patent). During the prosecution process, input from the inventors is often needed to confirm the patent attorney understanding of the technical aspects of the invention and/or the prior art cited against the application.
Is a patent application confidential?
The PTO hold patent applications confidential until published by the PTO, 18 months after initial filing.
How long does it take to obtain a patent?
Generally patents are issued within 18 to 36 months after application though inventors in the biotech and computer fields should plan on a longer waiting period. During this period a patent is pending.
How many years will my patent last?
Utility patents are granted for a term which begins on the date of the grant and ends 20 years from the date the patent application was first filed. Inventors can lose their rights when periodic maintenance fees are not paid or when the term expires.
Can an invention be corrected once a patent is granted?
Typographical errors may be corrected by filing a certificate of correction. When a patent is defective in certain aspects, the patentee may apply for a reissue patent. New matter cannot be added to the invention. A reissue patent is granted following the examination of the changes made to the invention. It replaces the original patent and is granted only for the remainder years left from the unexpired term.
Does it cost anything to file a patent?
Unfortunately it is not free to file a patent. Between USPTO filing fees and associated attorneys costs, filing a patent in just the United States can cost between $10,000 and $30,000.. International patent filings are even more expensive as they cover a larger number or countries and often involve foreign attorneys and translators. A PCT filing plus filings in major industrialized nations have been known to cost well over $100,000. Additionally, there are annual maintenance fees for all patents, pushing the cost over the lifetime of a patent even further.
What is a maintenance fee?
All utility patents issued are subject to the payment of maintenance fees which must be paid to maintain the patent in force. These fees are due at 3 1/2, 7 1/2 and 11 1/2 years from the date the patent is granted.
What happens when a patent expires?
After a patent has expired anyone may make, use, offer for sale, or sell or import the invention without permission of the patentee, provided that matter covered by other unexpired patents is not used.
What is infringement of a patent?
Infringement of a patent consists of the unauthorized making, using , offering for sale or selling any patented invention within the covered country during the perm of the patent. A patentee can sue the infringer and can ask for an injunction to prevent the continuation of infringement and for an award of damages.
What should I do if I believe that my patent is being infringed upon?
Contact the licensing manager at the TTO office responsible for your technology. They will work with you and the possible infringer.