Is your idea novel? A patent search is a great place to start when exploring the idea of patenting an idea or invention. Getting a patent search is largely to develop a heads-up strategy for moving forward with developing an invention.
Getting a patent is a large investment of time, effort and money so it is a good idea to see what is out there before getting to in depth in the project. Sometimes inventors won’t yet have an invention that is complete, but would like to get a sense of the patent landscape to determine whether it even makes sense to continue the project and whether there may be some available ‘space’ that they could target.
Inventors may search for ‘prior art’ or have the APEX team prepare a professional search report starting at $500. To begin the process, click here to schedule a free consultation.
Patent Application Drafting
When choosing how you can best protect your intellectual property there are several options available. Among these options are utility (non-provisional) patents, design patents, and provisional patents.
A provisional patent application is a significantly less expensive and complicated patent option. This is the reason that many inventors choose to pursue a provisional patent as a starting point. A provisional patent can be prepared and filed quickly and gives the inventor “patent-pending” status as soon as the application is filed. Upon filing, the inventor has 1 year of protection to market the invention, build prototypes, expand on the invention and how it works, receive funding, etc. Within this 1-year window, an inventor must file for a utility patent application or lose his/her priority date of the provisional filing.
The provisional patent application is not a substitute for filing a non-provisional patent application. It’s important to understand that even if you file a provisional patent application, the inventor will still need to file a non-provisional application within the time allotted to receive and retain patent protection. Think of the provisional patent application as a possible step in the patent process, but not the final step.
A utility patent, also referred to as a non-provisional patent application provides protection for an inventor for 20 years as opposed to the provisional patent which provides the inventor with a 1-year window of protection for the inventor.
A design patent is a form of legal protection granted to the ornamental design of a functional item. A design patent protects the ornamental design of an invention, not the usefulness.
To begin the process, click here to schedule a free consultation.
International Patent Protection
If an invention is to be sold internationally, foreign patent considerations may apply. The application process for patents in foreign countries is usually accomplished through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). The PCT has been adopted by more than 130 nations, including most industrialized countries such as Great Britain, France, Japan, China and Germany. The PCT enables an inventor to file a single international application that bases its priority date off of an existing U.S. application for subsequent foreign application filings. To keep this the filing date of the U.S. application, the PCT application must be filed within 12 months of a U.S. Provisional Patent Application, or if no U.S. Provisional Patent Application has been filed, within 12 months of the filing date of a U.S. utility application. Note that while this priority may benefit you against other parties’ subsequent filings for similar ideas, it does not automatically result in your receiving patent protection. After you file an application in the PCT, you must then apply in the particular foreign countries in which you want to seek patent protection, as no “international” or “global” patent issues directly from the PCT application. These patent applications must be examined in the individual countries, and additional filing and professional fees are involved.
If you are interested in international patent protection, click here to schedule a free consultation.
Patent prosecution describes the interaction between applicants and their representatives, and a patent office with regard to a patent, or an application for a patent.
In the United States, an Office action is a document written by an Examiner in a patent or trademark examination procedure and mailed to an applicant for a patent or trademark. After six months to a year, most likely you’ll receive what’s known as an official action explaining why the USPTO is allowing or rejecting your application. When you’re sent an office action, usually you have three months to respond, or one month if it’s a restriction requirement.
If you received an Office Action on your patent application, click here to schedule a free consultation.