Technology Patents

Technology patents are those that give an inventor the legal right to his or her invention, whether it be a product, a design, or a process related to the technology sector. Some examples of a technology patent include patents for unique chemical compounds or the process for manufacturing a chemical compound. Once a person or a company has a patent, it gives them the exclusive right to determine who can and cannot use their product. A patented product cannot be used, made, or sold by anyone else without the patent owner’s consent. This protection typically lasts for 20 years.

Patent Basics

Patents are a great way for an inventor to protect his or her intellectual property. They incentivize creativeness and innovation by allowing inventors to lay claim to their invention and benefit from all the resources that went into creating their product by being the sole entity that collects the profits of the product.

Patent rights are based on geography. If a company has acquired a patent in the United States, that patent is only enforceable within the United States, unless that company also has a patent in another country. In other words, a patent will only be enforced in the country in which it has been granted. Most patents are owned by private companies.

The public disclosure of patent applications allows other inventors to see what is already being done and come up with creative ways to “work around” the patent to foster new ideas and inventions.

If a patent owner believes someone is infringing on his or her patent, the owner is the main individual responsible for initiating a suit against the alleged infringer. However, the patent owner also has the power to grant temporary use to another person or company in the form of a license. The third party will pay royalties to use the license, so the patent owner can collect royalties all while maintaining exclusive rights to the invention. The information of the licensee is generally kept public even if the patent information is public.

Patent Application Guidelines

If an inventor wants to have the best possible chance at getting his or her patent application approved, he or she should follow some standard guidelines:

  • The invention should be unique. “Prior art,” or similar patents, can lead to a rejection of a patent.
  • The invention should be non-obvious, meaning that an ordinary person in the relevant field could not have come up with it.
  • The invention should be useful, as opposed to theoretical.
  • The invention should be described clearly and completely in the patent application so that an ordinary person would be able to reproduce it.

Recent Technology Patents

Big technology firms like Google, Microsoft, and IBM are big players when it comes to patents. Microsoft dominates the field and has filed patents for its inventions ranging from a “Diary-free Calorimeter”— which estimates a person’s nutrition intake by monitoring weight and exercise — to a “Language Origin of Words”— which focuses on the proper pronunciation of systems that convert text to speech.

Google has a patent out on its popular Google glasses, which displays a screen on a head-mounted form of eyeglasses.

Increases in Patents by Big Technology Firms

According to recent research compiled by venture capitalist firm CB Insights, the biggest five technology firms have been actively and increasingly engaging in patentable activities. The report by CB Insights looked at the patent portfolios and patenting activities of the five biggest technology firms. It should be noted that the report left out IBM and GE, which are two important actors in the sector. However, it does provide a useful snapshot of the firm’s research and development vision and priorities.

Since 2009, 52,000 patents have been filed by Alphabet, Inc. (a subsidiary of Google); Apple Inc.; Facebook, Inc.; Amazon Inc.; and Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft has filed the most patents out of the “big five” with a total of 16,840 patents over seven years. Over those same seven years, Google has filed a whopping 14,596 applications, followed by Apple, Amazon, and Facebook. On average, these five technology companies have filed 10,000 patent applications per year.

The trend displayed by these tech companies is an increase in patent applications in the technology sector. Another trend that CB Insights noted was technology patents related to artificial intelligence. These types of patents filed by the “big five” will invest in thought functions in machines and can have an impact on other sectors including agriculture, transportation, and health care.

If you need help with filing a technology patent or other related issues, 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, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.