Frequently Asked Questions About Intellectual Property Law

Our frequently asked questions (FAQ) page is a compilation of responses to common questions regarding our services and the patent process. The answers provided for the patent process are short summaries that highlight the key aspects. Many resources are available online regarding patents, the application process and prosecuting patent applications.

Can I Extend A Provisional Patent Application?

Provisional applications cannot be extended. Under certain circumstances, you may be able to file another provisional application, but this is not recommended and can create serious risks regarding the patentability of your invention.

Do You Market, License Or Manufacture Inventions?

While we do not market inventions or locate licensing deals for you, we can assist you in the legal aspect of licensing or otherwise exploiting the value of your invention should you locate a party that is interested.

What is a patent?

A patent is a time-limited monopoly on your invention, which gives you enforceable rights to prevent others from making, using, selling or importing your invention (without your permission), in the United States, for 20 years. The government recognizes the benefit of disclosing new technologies and ideas to the public. For this disclosure, they are willing to give you exclusive rights to your invention for a period of time. The basis for granting this right comes from Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution.

What are the different types of patents?

The three types of U.S. patents are utility, plant and design. Utility patents are the most common patent. These patents describe a useful structure, idea, method or process, or improvement on an existing idea. The patent term for a utility patent is 20 years from the earliest filing date of the nonprovisional patent application. Plant patents are less common and describe a new asexually reproduced biological plant. These include newly cultivated or combined plants that do not exist in the wild. The term for this patent is the same as a utility, 20 years. Design patents are the third patent type. These patents protect the “ornamental design” of the disclosed invention. This means how the product “looks” and not what it does. These patents offer no protection for the usefulness or utility of the disclosed invention but rather its visual representation. Care should be taken to note the difference between utility and design patents. Design patent terms are 15 years in length from the date of issuance of the patent.

Why get a patent?

A patent protects your ideas for a limited amount of time and prevents others from making, using, selling or importing the invention in the United States. In essence, you obtain a monopoly on your invention for the length of the patent term in exchange for disclosing your idea to the public. Patents are for the public interest; they promote sharing ideas with the public in exchange for legally enforceable rights to exclude others from copying your idea. From a business perspective, without patent protection, ideas are quickly replicated and reproduced and can be sold without your consent. In order to obtain a foothold in the market and remain viable, protection must be sought for your intellectual property. Without patent protection, your ideas may be easily stolen and reproduced on a large scale, and you will have no legal remedy.

What Does The Patent Process Entail?

The process for obtaining a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is known as prosecution. During prosecution, a nonprovisional patent application is substantively reviewed to determine what aspects are patentable according to the rules and statutory requirements for patentability. An examiner from the patent office will communicate with the applicant and his or her representatives during this process. Amendments to the application are common, as the patent is narrowed in scope to only the patentable matter. There are no guarantees that an application will lead to a patent; however, if at the end of prosecution your application is allowed, the application will be issued as a United States Utility Patent and will last for 20 years from the effective filing date.

What Are My Next Steps After Filing A Provisional Application?

After your invention has been compared to the relevant prior art (similar inventions) and a provisional application has been filed, a 12-month clock begins, during which time a nonprovisional patent application must be filed to obtain the benefit of the earlier filed provisional application. After this time frame, the provisional application abandons, and you lose the earlier filing date. A nonprovisional application includes a complete draft of the patent, including an abstract, description of the field of the invention, description and distinguishing remarks relating to the prior art, a summary of the invention, detailed patent drawings and a detailed description of them, a detailed specification, and claims (your legal rights). A nonprovisional application is the only type of application that can result in an issued utility or design patent.

What Is A Provisional Versus A Nonprovisional Application?

A provisional patent application is a special type of application that preserves an earlier filing date for an invention and allows an applicant to inexpensively get on file with the USPTO. A provisional application precedes a nonprovisional application and is not reviewed on its merits by the USPTO. A provisional application will not lead to the issuing of a patent by itself. A later-filed nonprovisional patent application is required for the issuance of a patent. A nonprovisional patent is carefully drafted by a skilled patent attorney and extensively reviewed by the USPTO. Provisional applications are, in essence, a placeholder and retain “patent pending” status for your invention while a nonprovisional application is prepared. A 12-month clock starts once the provisional is filed, during which time a nonprovisional application must be filed or rights may be permanently lost to the invention.

Why Does It Cost So Much To File A Nonprovisional Application?

A nonprovisional patent application is a complete application for a patent and the only type that will result in the issuance of a utility patent. A nonprovisional patent application is considered one of the most complex legal instruments and, as such, requires extensive skill, knowledge and time to properly prepare. The costs associated with a nonprovisional patent application reflect this level of knowledge and effort.

Will I Be Protected Internationally?

No. A patent application must be filed in each country individually, either directly or through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) process. We are happy to discuss the options and associated costs of filing for patent protection outside the United States.

Why Would I Need Drawings Made If I Already Have Them?

While your current drawings are an excellent marketing tool and sufficient for a provisional patent application, they are likely inadequate for a nonprovisional patent application. Patent drawings are a very specific type of drawing, with a number of statutory requirements. If drawings are not done correctly, the USPTO will reject or object to the patent, which may result in added time and cost.

Can Someone Make A Minor Change And Steal My Patent?

Not if the patent is drafted correctly by a skilled patent attorney. See below FAQ relating to prosecution.

What Is Prosecution, And Why May I Need It?

A patent is a very strategic legal document. By drafting a well-written patent, you will have broad, enforceable rights that encompass a wide range of variations to your invention. What this means is that someone can’t change a bolt, dimension or any other small design feature and get away with stealing your invention. A patent is initially drafted with very broad legal rights (claims). The USPTO will make us narrow these rights in the prosecution phase. This “overclaiming” and then narrowing is known as prosecution and ensures that you receive the absolute broadest, strongest and valuable rights possible. If there were no prosecution, then it means you could have had stronger rights than you actually received. Keep in mind that having a patent is not what matters; rather, having a strong, enforceable patent that cannot be easily stolen is what matters. A weak patent may turn out to offer minimal to no actual rights or value.

What Is Micro Entity?

Micro entity is a type of inventor class at the USPTO, created on March 19, 2013. Those who qualify as micro-entity receive a 75% discount on most government fees. Most inventors qualify if their individual (not household) income is less than $184,116 per year, and they have not filed more than four nonprovisional or design patents in the past. Fees quoted in the attached forms are based on micro entity.

What Skills Does Boudwin Intellectual Property Law, LLC, Have?

Boudwin Intellectual Property Law, LLC, is an intellectual property firm that focuses on retaining rights for inventors through patent protection. We have experience in all technology fields, have conducted more than 4000 prior art searches and have filed more than 2000 patent applications. We only employ registered patent attorneys and agents. Each of our patent attorneys has a degree and background in either mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, biochemical/biomedical engineering, manufacturing engineering, systems engineering, civil engineering, biology, chemistry and/or aerospace engineering.

How Do I Begin The Process Of Securing Rights To My Invention?

To begin a nonprovisional patent, you can contact Boudwin Intellectual Property Law, LLC, directly. Remember, the sooner you start, the lower the cost will be. A nonprovisional patent takes several weeks, if not months, to properly prepare, so you should get started no later than nine months after you file your provisional application. You may inquire about getting started by emailing us or calling us at 856-975-6241. We will respond to your request within 24 hours.