You can protect your discoveries, inventions, and even business methods with an intellectual property patent (also known as an IP patent). Patents are granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (the USPTO). An IP patent excludes others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention in the U.S. Because the United States runs on a first-to-file, rather than first-to-invent, IP patent system, filing timely intellectual property patent applications for your inventions is imperative. In other words, even if you invented something first, someone would be able to apply for and receive an intellectual property patent for your invention if they applied for the same invention before you did.
With Priori, you can find an IP patent attorney who can help you strategize your intellectual property patent portfolio, successfully file for necessary provisional and non-provisional IP patents and defend against any infringements on your existing IP patents.
Patentable Subject Matter
An attorney will help you determine which of your inventions or discoveries are patentable subject matter. To receive an IP patent, your invention or discovery must be novel, useful, and non-obvious. Patentable subject matter is defined in 35 U.S.C. § 101 as any process, machine, manufacture, composition of matter or improvement thereof.
Types of IP Patents
An attorney will then help you choose the appropriate type of intellectual property patent for your needs. The USPTO provides three general types of intellectual property patents: utility patents, design patents and plant patents.
A utility patent is used to protect the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof. These IP patents last for 20 years from the filing date.
A design patent is used to protect new, original, and ornamental design embodied in or applied to an article of manufacture. It is effective for 14 years after the filing date.
A plant patent is issued for new and distinct, invented or discovered asexually reproduced plants. It is effective for 20 years from the date of filing the intellectual property patent application.
A U.S. IP patent will only protect you in the U.S., so if you want intellectual property patent protection abroad, you will need to apply in each applicable country or regional patent office.
Provisional vs. Non-Provisional Patents
If you're looking for a lower cost option before investing in the full intellectual property patent process, provisional patents might be right for you. The application for a provisional patent establishes an early filing date for your IP patent, but it will not mature into a regular IP patent unless you complete the standard application process within one year. The application still includes a specification, but it does not require formal patent claims or other disclosure documents. No examiner actually reviews the application, but it preserves the earlier filing date for the invention. Many entrepreneurs decide to proceed with a provisional patent without the assistance of a lawyer to keep costs down, but this can be a critical mistake because you will only be able to take advantage of the earlier filing date for exactly what you describe in your provisional patent. With a provisional patent, you will also be able to use the phrase “patent pending.”
How to Patent Intellectual Property
An attorney will perform a patent search of previously filed IP patent applications to determine whether your invention is unique. Your attorney will then help you prepare and file your IP patent application, which will include a detailed description of your intellectual property, legal claims about its unique features, technical specifications, and other materials. If the USPTO approves your application, your patent's term will begin on the date you filed with the USPTO.
In an office action, the USPTO rejects or demands modification of an IP patent claim. You may respond by dropping the claim, modifying it, or challenging the USPTO. Examples of office actions include a restriction requirement, a non-final Office action, and final Office action. The USPTO may reject your intellectual property patent claim for many reasons. For instance, the USPTO may reject your IP patent application if it determines that your invention does not work or is not valuable. Technicalities in your application can also lead to rejection. For example, if you recite the elements of your invention but do not properly demonstrate how they are connected, the USPTO may reject your intellectual property patent application. Your IP patent application may also face rejection if, for example, you fail to provide enough information to allow an ordinary person to produce and use the claimed invention.
The USPTO requires a maintenance fee to maintain and reissue IP patents. If you fail to pay a maintenance fee, your IP patent protection will lapse, and the rights provided by your IP patent will no longer be enforceable. The fees are due three times during the life of an intellectual property patent. An intellectual property patent may be reissued if it is determined, through error, to have been rendered wholly or partly inoperative or invalid.
Depending on the complexity of what you would like to protect with an IP patent and the type of IP patent you need, the cost of filing an IP patent application can vary significantly. When you hire a lawyer in the Priori network, a patentability search will typically cost anywhere from $400 to $3,000. A provisional patent application can cost from $600 to $3,500, while a non-provisional patent application may cost from $4,750 to $20,000. Design patent applications tend to be significantly less expensive, and they typically range from $945 to $2,000. In order to get a better sense of cost for your particular situation, put in a request to schedule a complimentary consultation and receive a free price quote from one of our lawyers.
How long does it take for an IP patent application to be processed?
The average time for an IP patent application to be processed is 24.6 months. Applications received by the USPTO are numbered in the order received, and you will receive your application number within eight weeks of applying on paper and immediately if filing electronically. You may check on the status of your pending IP patent application on USPTO’s Patent Application Information Retrieval System (PAIR). Intellectual property patent applications are extremely complex and time-consuming. Working with a skilled intellectual property lawyer is the best way to efficiently and successfully apply for an IP patent.
What is the difference between a disclosure document and a provisional application?
While you may submit a disclosure document to the USPTO to provide credible and inexpensive evidence of your invention without public disclosure, these documents are not IP patent applications. You are also not permitted to apply the term “patent pending” to your invention if you have only filed a disclosure document. The date of receipt of the document is also not considered the effective filing date of an IP patent. A provisional application, however, is an IP patent application. Therefore, it will establish an effective filing date as well as allow you to state that your invention has a patent pending. You should always work with an intellectual property lawyer to determine the most appropriate form of protection for your idea and unique business circumstances.