Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 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. Vast resources are available online regarding patents, the application process and prosecuting patent applications. We encourage you to visit our Links page and visit the USPTO website for more information.
What type of protection do I currently have?
If your application number begins with a 61/, you currently have a provisional patent application. A provisional application can be thought of, for simplicity purposes, as a proof of invention date, but does not offer any enforceable rights (see later questions relating to nonprovisional patents). Provisional applications allow you to freely show your invention without threat of jeopardizing your rights under our first-to-file system or under international patent law. If your application begins with a 13/, you have a nonprovisional application. Nonprovisional application are where you gain enforceable, long term patent rights.
Can I extend my provisional patent?
No. Under certain circumstances you may be able to file another provisional application, but this is not the norm, can create serious risks regarding patentability, and is never recommended.
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 do I do next?
If you currently have a provisional application, the next, and final step, is filing a nonprovisional patent application. A nonprovisional patent application is the only type of application that will result in a full, 20 year, utility patent. The following questions will help you better understand what a patent and a nonprovisional patent application are.
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, and 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 non-provisional patent application. Plant patents are less common, and describe a new biological plant. These include newly cultivated or combined plants which 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 protect 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 14 years in length.
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 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 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 prospective, 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 is the patent process?
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.
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 twelve 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 timeframe, 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 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 patent.
What is a provisional vs. a nonprovisional patent 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 twelve 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 the most complex legal instrument in existence 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 must be filed in each country individually. We are happy to discuss the options and associated costs of filing for patent protection outside of 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. The most notable requirements are that the drawings be two dimensional, black and white, line drawings. No solid models, pictures, or color drawings are allowed. If drawings are not done correctly the USPTO will reject/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. The skill in drafting a patent results in 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 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 “over claiming” 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 new type of inventor class at the USPTO, created March 19th, 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 $150,000 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 Global IPA have?
Global IPA 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 four thousand prior art searches, and have filed more than two thousand patent applications. We only employ registered patent attorneys/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, and/or aerospace engineering.
How do I begin the process of securing rights to my invention?
To begin a nonprovisional patent you can contact Global IPA directly. Remember that 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 9 months after you file your provisional application. You may inquire about getting started by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us at (215) 840-0315. We will respond to your request immediately or within 24 hours.