Patents Information

Patents information can be found on the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. The USPTO operates under the Department of Commerce and grants patents for the protection of various inventions.

A patent provides protection over an invention for a specific period of time. It is an intellectual property right that is granted by the USPTO and prevents others from making, manufacturing, using, and selling your invention.

Types of Patents

There are three kinds of patents, including:

  • Utility patents, which are granted for new and useful processes, machinery, and methods.
  • Design patents, which are granted for the design of an invention.
  • Plant patents, which are granted to newly identified plant varieties.

Patent Facts

  • In order to obtain a patent, you must file an application with the USPTO.
  • Once you receive patent protection, you can license or sell your patent.
  • Once a patent expires, you cannot renew it. It will now be open to exploitation without the risk of infringement.
  • Only in certain cases can a patent be extended beyond the 20-year patent protection (utility and plant) timeline. If so, you’ll want to file a Supplementary Protection Certificate (SPC).
  • If an inventor passes away before submitting a patent, that person’s legal representative can file for the patent.
  • If more than one person invented the product, and one of the inventors refuses to file for a patent, the other inventor can in fact file on that person’s behalf.
  • You can patent an invention that is a product, like a chemical compound.
  • USPTO employees cannot apply for patents unless they inherited it.
  • One reason to license a patent is due to the fact that a patent holder may not have a large enough manufacturing facility, and therefore, needs the assistance of another company to manufacture the product. If this is the case, that company will receive some type of royalty payment per product sold.
  • Another reason to license a patent is if the patent holder operates in one geographical market, but wants the help of another business who can operate in a different geographical market.

Types of Patent Applications

Provisional Patent 

provisional patent application does not need to have a formal claim, oath, or declaration. In fact, provisional applications are not examined. It simply provides you with a year to expand upon and enhance your invention. During this time, you can indicate that your patent is ‘patent pending’ so that others cannot use it. Once the one-year mark ends, you’ll need to file a non-provisional patent (for full protection).

This one-year period cannot be extended. The only case in which you could file a claim for greater than one year is if the non-provisional application is filed greater than 12 months, but less than 14 months after the filing date of the provisional application. If this is the case, you can try to have the provisional application restored for those additional two months. However, keep in mind that you might be charged a fee to do this.

You are also not required to file a provisional application before a non-provisional one. Therefore, if you are certain that you are ready to file a non-provisional application, then you can go directly to that specific application.

Along with your provisional application, you must pay the appropriate filing fees and also include a cover sheet that specifically identifies the application as provisional. The cover sheet must also include your name, address, title of the invention, the name of your attorney (if you have one), and the docket number (if applicable).

Another important item to keep in mind is that you cannot file a provisional application for a design-related invention.

Non-provisional patent 

This type of patent application can be filed electronically on the USPTO website, sent in via mail, or hand-delivered to the office in Virginia. If you choose to file by mail or deliver in person, you will be charged another $400 fee. This fee can be reduced to $200 if you qualify as a small business.

Included in the non-provisional patent application will be the Utility Patent Application Transmittal Form, a transmittal letter, the required fees, the Application Data Sheet, details specific to your claim(s), illustrations, an Oath or Declaration, and other documentation depending on the type of invention.

If you need help with learning more about patents, or how to file for patent protection, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.