PROVISIONAL PATENT APPLICATIONS
- Best for protection of an idea of an invention that is not fully developed and is not yet implemented.
- Not a full patent, has to be followed up with a non-provisional patent. Gives you one year of priority protection.
- Less expensive and quicker to prepare, with minimal USPTO fees and no maintenance fees.
A US provisional application must have sufficient disclosure. This means that even though the invention is in a development stage, it must still disclose enough information to clearly identify what the invention is and how it works in order to serve as a priority document. The importance of establishing priority is your ability to avoid prior art.
The American Invents Act favors the first inventor to file. This means receiving a filing date, as early as possible, is crucial. While this allows you to obtain a filing date fast, keep in mind that you will only enjoy the ability to maintain priority of that filing date if you convert the application to a non-provisional application, and file it within your 12 month priority period.
US provisional applications are never published.
NON-PROVISIONAL PATENT APPLICATIONS
- Best option for when your invention is nearing completion or already finalized but not yet on the market.
- Full application that requires further detail including at least one claim and figures to illustrate claimed elements.
- If you go directly with a non-provisional patent protection, you save the money and time of the provisional application.
A US non-provisional specifications need the amount of detail to enable one skilled in the art to reproduce the invention without undue experimentation. The detailed description, figures, claims and abstract go to make the specification. Other procedural elements must be appreciated such as an inventor executed oath or declaration, entity status certification (when appropriate), and all necessary filing fees.
Once filed, it enters the examination process at the USPTO. Ultimately, it is this examination that will result in a determination as to the novelty, utility, and non-obvious attributes of your invention.
If the application passes examination at the USPTO, and all due fees are paid, the office will issue a US patent. A granted US non-provisional patent is valid for 20 years from the date of filing, including payment of maintenance fees to stay active.
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Keep in mind that you do not want to publicly disclose your invention to anyone before you have an application on file. Not only do you run the risk of having someone usurp your rights, but in the US you must file within 12 months of the public disclosure. For foreign protection, you may immediately be barred from seeking patent protection. So do not put it on a website, show it on YouTube, take it to a tradeshow, or write an article in a magazine about it until you have your filing date!
THREE CLASSIFICATIONS OF PATENTS
A design patent protects the aesthetic features, or appearance, of an article or device. Design patents won’t protect how a device works.
If you already have a patent covering the function of your invention, you may want to consider additionally protecting the exterior design of this invention to provide overlapping protection.
On the other hand, if you cannot get a utility patent because the invention is not functionally unique, with no novel aspects beyond the look and feel, you can apply for a design patent and protect the aesthetic aspects instead of the functionality of your invention.
US Design Patents last 14 years from registration from when it issued. There are no other official fees you need to pay to keep the patent granted for the full 14 year term.
A utility patent protects the parts of a device and how they work together, as well as the methods of functionality or use. If you obtain a utility patent you will be able to prevent others from making, using, selling or importing into the US any product that is functionally covered by the claims in the issued patent, regardless of whether the device looks anything like your invention (or the drawings in your patent application). This is the most common, and strongest patents earned.
In the US, utility patent applications last 20 years from the filing date - the term may be adjusted by the USPTO depending on whether there are delays in examining the application.
USPTO maintenance fees are due at 3.5, 7.5 and 11.5 years after issuance in order to keep the utility patent alive.
A plant patent protects the invention or discovery of an asexually reproduced, unique variety of plant, that is not a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.
In order to acquire a plant patent, the inventor must have asexually reproduced the plant. Asexual reproduction means that the plant is reproduced by means other than seeds. Asexual reproduction is necessary in order to earn a plant patents because it's what proves the inventor can duplicate the plant.
There is a limit on the extent of plant patent rights. Generally, it can only be infringed when a plant has been asexually reproduced from the actual plant protected by the plant patent. This means the infringing plant must have the same genetics as the patented plant.
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Our team of patent agents and attorneys are ready to assist you with further information for your specific invention. We specialize in helping inviduals and small businesses acheive their patents.
EXAMPLES FOR UTILITY PATENT APPLICATIONS
Mechanical patent applications will cover devices such as vehicle, weapon or appliance parts, kitchen wares, specific industry equipment or tools. An example of mechanical patents granted to our clients is the Strong Arm Bolt-Rebar Hanger System for Concrete Footing Forms.
Software patent applications involve majorly apps for mobile devices - a large part of what our team focuses on. Other than apps, software applications cover web program software and cryptographic software. An example of an app patent granted to our client is the Button Fashion App.
Electronic patent applications cover a variety of computer hardware, battery charges and data storage. An example of a patent granted to our client for an electronic utility patent is the Portable Battery Charger.
Biotech patent applications cover pharmaceuticals, medical devices and genetically modified compositions (think plant patents). San Diego has a strong biotech sector and we love working local on these applications. An example of a granted biotech patent is the Remote Pharmacy Controlled Ordering and Dispensing Unit Kiosk.