San Francisco Patent Lawyers
Legal Tips and Information
How to Find the Best Patent Attorneys in San Francisco
Patent law is very specialized and it’s a good idea to look for a San Francisco patent lawyer with expertise in the areas of prior patent research who has a solid understanding of the technology or idea behind the invention. It may be tempting to simply choose the largest firm, but remember that individual attorneys will meet specific needs efficiently and large firms may simply assign the project to an inexperienced junior associate.
The value of a patent relies heavily on how well it is written, so choosing the best patent attorney could make or break a product or idea in the marketplace. The USPTO routinely returns poorly written or incomplete patent applications, which lengthens an already cumbersome process. For this reason alone, it’s important to understand the patent attorney’s background and experience before making a decision about whether to hire them.
What is Work-life Like for Inventors and Startup Founders in San Francisco?
There’s more to this area of California than near-perfect year round weather and world-class surfing. Here are a few things to consider about the San Francisco startup scene:
Resources Available to Inventors and Startup Founders
San Francisco is well known for its bustling startup scene. The area attracts creative people with high flying goals. Shared workspaces, incubators, business accelerators, seed funding, mentorship programs, startup launch programs, and entrepreneur training events are easy to find.
Check out resources like the mentorship program AngelPad, startup incubator Parisoma, seed funding from Y Combinator and 500 Startups, and the startup launch program Founder Institute.
Co-working spaces in SF include RocketSpace for tech startups, NextSpace, Sanbox Suites in three locations, and the feature-rich Parisoma. Other notable co-working options are available through 20Mission, Nomad-A-What, ThirdWorkplace, ImpactHub, Co-Spot, and Staruphouse.
Trendy Areas of San Francisco for Startups
The SoMa (South of Market) area is worth a bit of extra attention for its concentration of brand-new businesses and coffee shops. Known for its competitive tech businesses, SoMa is home to TaskRabbit, Webpass, and Airbnb. The area is industrial so high-rise apartments and loft spaces are plentiful.
The Financial District is the business center of San Francisco with a high number of law firms, banks, insurance companies, and real estate agencies. There are six Fortune 500 companies here and plenty of high-end martini bars to keep their employees happy.
Situated close to Stanford University, the fast-growing Palo Alto area offers vast expanses of green lawns and lush gardens. The tech boom is driving housing prices up in this small area as startup founders who’ve made millions flock to its quiet streets. The hippest restaurants coexist peacefully with student-led startups and lots of college town activity.
The Mountain View area has a history of providing a comfortable home for the technology industry. Intuit, Mozilla Foundation, Google, and Symantec all got their start here. With a breathtaking view of the South Bay and Stanford University close at hand, this is a great place for inventors and startup founders to put down roots.
How Much Does Hiring a Patent Attorney Cost?
While cost shouldn’t be the deciding factor when choosing a San Francisco patent lawyer, it does make a big difference to startup founders and inventors who are trying to launch a new product on a shoestring budget.
It may not be possible to retain a big-name law firm, but heading directly to the cheapest option isn’t a good idea. Word-of-mouth is important, however remember that what worked for one startup founder may not work for an inventor whose product exists in a completely different niche so evaluate patent lawyers carefully.
Services Offered by San Francisco Patent Lawyers
The comprehensive and expert services of patent attorneys in San Francisco are a sought-after commodity when creative people need customized services to help them protect their intellectual property.
Here are a few services offered by reputable and trusted patent attorneys in San Francisco:
Counseling for patent-seekers
When contemplating filing a patent it’s best to seek the very best advice right from the start. Experienced patent attorneys understand the possible problems and potential for success that filing with the USPTO offers and can advise their clients in a way that maximizes the potential of gaining approval.
Patent infringement litigation
Startup founders and inventors who have experienced patent infringement first hand know how important it is to have the best patent attorney standing with them as they seek a resolution to the issue.
While patents are available for any design, process, or product that meets the requirements for utility, novelty, or obviousness, getting the actual documentation approved by the USPTO and creating a patent that keeps the intellectual property safe is a complicated process best handled by an expert patent attorney.
Getting a patent in the U.S. can be a lengthy process that may stretch to 24 months or beyond. Describing the invention in writing is only part of the equation. It is a good idea to make sure that the patent attorney has the knowledge and expertise to file the patent overseas, as well.
Present technical arguments
An attentive patent lawyer with a good educational background and thorough understanding of the niche market can present winning technical arguments on behalf of the inventor. This is a crucial attribute and a lack of technical knowledge could be a deal-breaker.
Meet deadlines for renewal and application
A patent application can’t get through the approval process unless all deadlines are met. A provisional patent application has a lifespan of only 12 months. There’s no extension for the pendency period. The non-provisional application for patent has to be filed within that initial 12-month period or the patent application will be rejected.
Offer advice about patent infringement
As a result of recent changes to patent laws, infringement on valid patents is now an issue that the courts in the United States will address. Multi-million-dollar patent lawsuits are more common, now. Choosing a patent lawyer that understands how to protect the patent from infringement and stop anyone who oversteps the boundaries of the patent is important.
Suggest modifications and extensions to the patent definitions
Getting a patent that is air-tight is crucial for the health and well-being of a startup or emerging business. Inventors and creative individuals can protect their ideas through this process as well. Having a patent attorney that can suggest ways to modify or expand the patent definitions helps to further secure the inventor’s position and protect the idea.
Respond to patent examiner inquiries and reports
Part of gaining approval for a new patent from the USPTO is answering questions about the documentation. Having solid representation can make or break an inventor’s ability to obtain a patent for their product or idea.
Suggest IP rights such as designs and trademarks
With a wealth experience behind them, the best patent attorneys in San Francisco can suggest IP rights when appropriate. One of the advantages of hiring an expert is gaining access to their first-hand knowledge of the industry.
How to Choose the Best Patent Attorney
San Francisco area businesses need the best patent attorneys to assist them with applying for a patent through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and to communicate with the patent examiner throughout the approval process. Even after the patent is approved, the best patent law firms will assist their clients with licensing the products. They will also represent clients experiencing patent infringement issues.
Choosing the best patent attorney hinges on personal compatibility, capabilities of the lawyer, and the employer’s budget, however there are a few areas that should definitely be explored when narrowing down the list of candidates.
- Where is the attorney located?
- What is the patent attorney’s level of technical knowledge in the specific field of the patent?
- What is the patent attorney’s level of legal knowledge?
- Has the lawyer succeeded in filing similar patents in the past?
- Are the lawyer’s other clients also inventors or creative people seeking new patents?
- Does the attorney have any experience defending a patent against attacks?
- Does the attorney have experience licensing a patent?
- Does the lawyer have experience helping startups and emerging businesses?
- What is the attorney’s experience level with filing provisional patents and then guiding their clients through the decision making process when filing a non-provisional application for patent?
Choosing a patent attorney in San Francisco may seem like a big deal for a startup or inventor. It can be the most expensive decision a company or individual makes throughout the first months and years of a startup company.
Understanding the basic process for patent filing and knowing even a little bit about the local startup scene in San Francisco, the resources available to inventors and founders, and the process of obtaining a patent can mean the difference between success and failure.
San Francisco is a great place to put down roots for entrepreneurs, creatives, and people with big ideas. Finding the best attorney is a crucial step on the road to success.
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Legal Services Offered by Our On-Demand San Francisco Patent Attorneys
Our experienced San Francisco patent attorneys & lawyers represent individuals and businesses throughout the world with domestic and foreign patent preparation and prosecution matters. They have extensive experience handling applications from nearly every sector of technology, including biotechnology, computer hardware and software, communication networks, internet systems and methods, automotive, medical equipment, construction technology, consumer electronics, and clean technology research and development.
Our patent attorneys are of the most highly trained in the industry, requiring a scientific background, and passing a second level of testing known as the Patent Bar Examination. Thousands of patents are submitted to the patent office every day and a patent committee reviews each patent for its validity. The process requires that correctly drafted documentation present a clear case for the novelty of the invention, which is best made by a patent attorney with a higher education background in your industry.
Our San Francisco patent attorneys & lawyers can help you file a provisional patent, which lasts for 1-year and allows you to immediately begin using/manufacturing your invention with the confidence that your idea is protected. These types of patents are great if you think your idea will change a lot over the next year before you file a (non-provisional) patent. These patents are easier to obtain and are less expensive but you should have a patent lawyer review your provisional patent application to insure that you are meeting your objectives when you file your patent.
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- 8 min read
Why Should You Patent a Mobile App?
When asking "can you patent an app," remember that patenting a mobile phone application is an important part of protecting your intellectual property and allowing you to seek damage for infringement.
Nearly everyone has a smartphone with mobile applications. Mobile apps are one of the fasting growing segments of the software sector. This makes many people wonder if they can patent a mobile app. In most circumstances, you can. However, there are some limitations.
An app can be patented because it is part of the methods of interaction. This means it plays a part in how your smartphone functions. However, you cannot patent the computer code that runs your software. This distinction is confusing to many people.
Bringing your app to market is extremely competitive. The biggest app marketplaces today — the Apple iTunes App Store and Google Play — now offer more than 600,00
- 4 min read
Patent Description: What Is It?
A patent description is a part of how you patent an idea that explains the invention, design, or plant you've developed and forms an essential part of your patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
The patent description should include everything that makes your invention new. It must also include the information necessary for an average person to make your invention.
Together with the claims component, a patent description is known as the specification. A patent description includes the following sections:
- Title: This label explains your invention or design in a straightforward way.
- 5 min read
What Is Patent Misuse?
Patent misuse occurs when patent owners abuse their patent rights, typically for utility patents, in a way that prevents normal commerce and trade. It is the first line of defense for people who are accused of patent infringement. When faced with a lawsuit from a patent holder, the goal of the alleged infringer is to prove that the patent owner is using his or her patent privileges to stifle competition.
Over the last decade, the courts have tried multiple times to define patent misuse and how to prove it. While they have made strides, there are still a few gray areas.
Patent Misuse: A Closer Look
Patent misuse means that patent owners try to use their patent beyond what the patent allows. If a judgement is made that this has occurred, the patent becomes unenforceable — even if it is otherwise valid.
- 12 min read
How Long Do Drug Patents Last?
In general, a drug patent will be valid for approximately 20 years. However, there are variables that can influence patent life, either to extend it or, sometimes, to shorten it.
Why Is Drug Patent Life Important?
Intellectual property laws protect drug manufacture and sales through patents. However, a large portion of a drug's patent life can expire due to research, development, and approval time before it ever hits the market.
Once they are marketed, however, drugs make a lot of money. They are depended upon by thousands or millions of people. If a patent for a best-selling drug runs out, other companies can begin engineering it. People will stop buying the original company product, costing that company a great deal of money.
When a company owns a patent to a drug, it is sold under a brand name. Doctors usually prescribe it using that name, which is a patented term for the ingredients in
- 18 min read
What Is a Plant Patent Search?
A plant patent search covers information about patents granted by the government to protect ownership rights of unique and asexually reproducing plants. As you might expect, plant patents are only a fraction of the patents filed every year. For example, in 2012 there were 576,763 patent applications filed—860 were granted. Only 1,149 of those were for plants.
Before you file for a patent of any kind, it is essential to determine if any similar creations have already been patented. The same goes for the protections afforded to those who create new varieties of plants. You must determine that no one else has created a substantially similar variety of plant so that you are clear to file for your patent.
Why Is a Plant Patent Search Important?
Filing for a patent can be quite expensive, especially when one considers not only the filing fe