IP Law 101: Patent Trolls and What to do if You Meet One

What Are Patent Trolls?

Patent trolls are a lot like the threatening creatures from fairy tales that guard bridges and demand a high price for access. Rather than trying to develop or market a useful new product or process patent trolls try to earn a profit by accusing others of infringement. Their efforts tie up the U.S. court system with frivolous litigation, stifle innovation and put many small companies and individuals out of business.

A patent provides the owner with the right to prevent others from making, selling or offering for sale the invention described in the patent. Should an individual or company infringe that patent the patent owner has the right to demand that the infringer cease that activity. This can include threatening to file a lawsuit or actually moving forward with filing. Litigation is expensive and risky. Many companies accused of infringement are anxious to settle with the patent holder as long as it keeps them from going to trial. There are various means of settlement. The patent owner may agree to license the patent to the infringer. The infringer may also agree to cease the infringing activity, and may pay an agreed-upon amount to make up for lost sales of the patent holder.

How Patent Trolls Work

Knowing that Texas companies and individuals accused of infringement are typically willing to avoid litigation at all costs, patent trolls make it their business to routinely accuse others of infringement. They pick up patent rights not through innovation and hard work, but by purchasing patent rights from owners who are having difficulty monetizing their invention. The owner agrees to sell the patent to the troll in a last ditch effort to capitalize on their invention. Now that the patent troll owns the patent they are free to aggressively seek out anyone who might be infringing that patent.

It’s never pleasant to receive a threatening letter that suggests patent infringement and the possibility of a lawsuit. In fact, it often leads the recipient to panic. They might consider ignoring the letter or anxiety may push them to immediately capitulate to the patent troll’s demands. The better option is to remain calm and do a little research. An Internet search may reveal that the party behind the lawsuit is an entity known as a patent holding company or patent assertion entity. By looking at public court records and other documents, it should be fairly easy to determine whether or not the letter came from a patent troll.

What to do if confronted by a patent troll

Do Your Research

Start with a basic patent search to get a basic understanding of the patent. There are also resources where you can pull legal dockets surrounding the patent to see if there is a history of litigation surrounding the patent.

Contact a IP Law Attorney

Patent trolls have a couple tactics that have unfortunately worked for them.

  • They will send demand letters can come with a short deadline, this is meant to scare you into answering out of fear.
  • Another tactic is they will mass mail threats to unsuspecting organizations and then focus their attention on the companies that respond.

Just because you received one of these threatening letters it doesn’t mean a lawsuit will even get filed. Let us help you find out what you are dealing with.

Intellectual property attorneys have extensive experience and education that allows them to assess patent infringement claims. They can determine whether or not the infringement claims may have any merit. Moreover, they can engage in correspondence with the patent troll or their legal counsel in which in-depth analysis of the patent claims is conducted. Your patent attorney may be able to prove that your product or process in no way infringes the patent owned by the troll.

Don’t RUSH INTO Settlement

Above all else, don’t agree to a quick settlement, especially if it seems that a patent troll is at work. Like many schemes in the world, patent trolls will likely come back and demand more if you respond too quickly. A much better recommended course is to contact a patent attorney. 

If you suspect that you are being targeted by a patent troll in Texas, contact the Williams IP Law. You don’t have to immediately settle, especially if the claims being made have no merit.

How COVID-19 in Shaping Patent Law and Important Changes

As the Coronavirus spreads across the globe, scientists realized that this was an unknown virus. The medical tools that might be used to detect, treat and prevent it don’t exist.

Developing new tests and treatments requires time and money. Moreover, it’s necessary for these innovations to be tested and attain approval from the FDA or other agencies.

Here’s a look at some of the patent-related efforts that are underway to fight COVID-19.

What is the Facilitating Innovation to Fight Coronavirus Act?

Recently, a bill was drafted in the U.S. Its goal is removing barriers to inventing medical interventions that may be able to prevent or treat COVID-19.

Legal analysts tend to agree that the proposed legislation is a hodgepodge of laudable ideas and unintended consequences. The proposed act contains two sections, the first of which protects individuals from liability lawsuits arising from Coronavirus treatments.

The second section suspends the patent rights of certain medical products and provides a 10-year patent term extension beginning after the pandemic.

Analysts tend to see little problem with the first section, but the second one is causing concern. Critics feel that it’s just too vague. Biomedical firms heavily invest in new products. They bear these expenses because of the exclusivity that’s granted to them through a patent, which means that they may recoup their costs.

Unfortunately, the proposed legislation is too vague about how a new patent application that covers relevant technology would be treated. Does the clock on its term not start until the end of the pandemic, and then is the patent eligible for an additional 10 years?

If the law passes as written, it would mean that the inventors no longer had “exclusive” rights, which is one of the primary reasons why patents are pursued. Moreover, inventors would have to worry about infringing actions occurring at a time when they should enjoy perfect exclusivity.

How will patent owners re-establish exclusivity when the pandemic is over? The invention will have entered the public domain, making this a potentially impossible task.

Hopefully, this bill will be clarified before being adopted.

Patent Protections and Relaxation During the Pandemic

The relaxation of patent protections is occurring around the world In Israel, the government wants to made use of Abbvie’s drug known as Kaletra to treat COVID-19, but there isn’t enough of it in the country. Abbvie held patents in several countries for Kaletra, many of which have which expired.

Their Israeli patent is still in force, so that government is looking at obtaining generic Kaletra from another country, such as India, where the patent has expired.

In response, Abbvie announced that they would cease patent enforcement with regard to Kaletra, paving a cooperative way forward.

This approach makes sense in the case of a drug that’s near the end of its patentable life. Nonetheless, it’s vital that governments always consult with patent holders before looking for ways around their rights.

Lengthening Patent Terms and its Effect on Innovators

Governments are seeking to prevent innovators from profiteering from Coronavirus. They mainly are accomplishing this by passing legislation that allows them to produce any patented item that might help in the fight.

The U.S. government’s approach is different. The Coronavirus-relief bills provide billions of dollars’ worth of public research money to federal agencies to develop treatments and vaccines. Is it ethical for a government agency to receive an additional 10-year patent term on life-saving treatments or vaccines that should be freely available?

Many critics don’t think so, citing the stance taken by Jonas Salk when he developed the polio vaccine. Salk declared that his innovation needed to be owned by the public, and people say that the same approach should apply here.

Will the thought of not having the exclusive right to profit from a vaccine or treatment stop innovators? It’s possible, but there’s hope that an altruistic spirit will motivate the right inventors to find a cure.

COVID-19 Innovations & Keeping Your IP Safe

Despite the current uncertainty with regard to patent protection for Coronavirus-related technologies, it’s wise to seek patent protection. With shortages of items like face masks and medicines, there’s a proliferation of adulterated or counterfeit goods. Pursuing a patent gives you the right to prevent this.

In the spirit of cooperation, educational institutions, government agencies and biomedical firms are pledging to make their COVID-19 research freely available without enforcing patent rights. Whether your invention helps to stop the pandemic or not, contact Williams IP Law to discuss how to protect your IP.

Intellectual Property Search Basics

Patent Protection

It’s important to remember that the patent search is only one step in a much longer process. If the results of the search are favorable, then drafting the patent application may begin.

The inventor is by no means required to immediately pursue patent protection after a search is completed. However, there may be benefits to filing an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office with all possible speed.

The U.S. is now a “first to file” country, which means that the first inventor to file an application for new technology is the individual who is deemed to be the originator of the idea and therefore eligible for a patent.

This contrasts with the prior U.S. system under which a “first to invent” rule was followed. Under this system, an inventor who could produce documentation showing that they were the originator of a product or process could prevail over another inventor who filed their application first.

Accordingly, inventors may feel a great deal of pressure to immediately pursue patent protection. This is where the advice of a qualified intellectual property attorney becomes indispensable.

Your attorney can help you to determine whether or not your invention is sufficiently well-developed to pursue patent protection. If you are still deep in the development process, then your attorney may recommend filing a provisional patent application.

Such an application preserves an earlier filing date for your invention while also providing you with one year in which you may continue to develop the technology. You may rely on the guidance of your IP attorney during this time. At the end of the year, you may file a non-provisional patent application that more completely describes your invention. This application will be examined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and it also may issue as a patent.

Should I Do A Trademark Search?

It is always advisable to do a trademark search before you proceed with selecting a name for a business, band name, slogan, or any other symbol, mark, or terminology to represent your product and service to the public.

Typically it is best to do the trademark search at the very first stages of the process. Costs and efforts associated in getting a new product to the market, branding, and advertising can be relatively high.

It can be disheartening, frustrating, and harmful to your business to begin such a process without first making sure you trademark is clear from potential issues. It is common to see demand letters for infringement when a proper trademark search was not performed prior to using a mark.

There are 45 trademark classes which are essentially categories of marks split based on the type of the good or service that can be registered by the USPTO. It can be a tedious process to search this on your own with all of the different options available.

It’s also important to search for unregistered trademarks because even though a trademark is unregistered it could still prevent you registering your trademark and could still lead to trademark infringement.

The cost to perform a search is extremely small when compared to trademark infringement.

To learn more about the patent and trademark search process set up a FREE Consultation with Jeff Williams.

Strange Inventions of April Fool’s Day

This year’s April Fool’s Day is different than most. With most of the country on lockdown, it’s gotten far more difficult to play a prank on those who are nearest and dearest.

With a little luck, next year the country can get back to its usual first of April shenanigans. Until then, here’s a lighthearted look at some of the weirdest invention ideas ever to cross the desks at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office … or did they?

Smellovision

Who wouldn’t want to be able to smell the things that they are seeing on their television? That appears to have been the inspiration behind the Smellovision. Ostensibly created by a professor at London University around 1965, the invention was introduced on BBC TV. The inventor claimed that the technology would allow viewers to smell things like coffee and onions when they appeared on the screen.

Advising viewers to stand some six feet away from their television and sniff to get the best results, the inventor asked that people call in before noon the following day to report whether or not they had been able to smell anything.

Fortunately or unfortunately, this “invention” was really just an experiment dealing with the power of suggestion. Although many people claimed to have actually smelled the items presented on BBC TV, the reality is that we are still waiting for someone to invent a real Smellovision.

The Kodak EyeCamera 4.1

When inventors at the Kodak company proposed an idea for eye glasses that had a camera lens attached, the idea seemed like an outlandish one. While the advertisements for the product didn’t exactly promise X-ray vision, they certainly did make some claims that were difficult to believe. However, what was even worse was the appearance of the product, which was effectively a pair of eyeglasses with an actual camera lens occupying one side.

This was only an April Fool’s joke, but similar technology for facial recognition that is embedded in eyeglasses exists today.

Teleportation Machine

In 2013, the University of Michigan College of Engineering revealed the development of a working teleportation machine. Professor Xavier Vlad released a video demonstrating the teleportation of a key from one location to another.

Unfortunately, Vlad was later forced to admit that this video was produced in the name of good fun rather than scientific advancement.

A Clutter-Vaporizing Smartphone App

Are you ever bothered by the sheer amount of stuff that’s cluttering up your house? Are you embarrassed to invite people over for fear that they might think you’re a hoarder?

If so, then you need this app from Houzz that vaporizes clutter with the click of a button on your smartphone. Unfortunately, this one is prank from 2017.

Invisible Glasses

This is the invention for the person who hates to wear glasses and contacts but still requires vision correction. GlassesUSA.com came up with the idea for TruSkin Invisible Glasses as an April Fool’s joke a few years ago. The product was advertised on their website with enough technical language and jargon to make it sound really convincing. How many people fell for this clever ruse?

A Drone-Powered Hologram that Attends Meetings for You

Have you ever wished that you could attend a meeting without having to actually be there? If so, then this one is for you. This 2017 prank advertising Prysm Avatar made some pretty outlandish claims, but it’s a cinch that there were some tech-loving people who fell hard for the idea of combining drones with holograms.

If you have a real invention that you would like to protect with a patent, feel free to contact us at any time. We are always ready to review new ideas and go over all of the possibilities that are available for protecting your intellectual property.

International Patents and Trademarks

Foreign Patents

A patent is the government grant of the right to prevent others from making, using, and selling an invention for a specified time (20 years from filing). Patents are examined based on a number of criteria. Domestic patents are granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, called the USPTO, and must be new, useful and non-obvious. Foreign patent offices, typically within each country, grant patents based on similar criteria as that of the U.S., being new, useful, and have inventive step. Domestic, foreign, and international patent application processes are complicated legally and procedurally, so it is wise to consult with an experienced patent attorney as early as possible in the evolution of the invention in question.

A patent application may initially be filed in one of three ways:

  1. directly here in the U.S. as a domestic U.S. patent application;
  2. directly within a foreign country as a foreign patent application; or
  3. at a qualified international receiving office as an International patent application.

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT)

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) gives an inventor the ability to file an international patent application and reserve coverage in almost 150 different countries simultaneously.

The PCT is an international procedure established by an international agreement to which the U.S. is a signatory. The PCT is administered by a United Nations agency, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.

WIPO has established an intricate, well organized system for the filing and administration of international patent applications. In the U.S., PCT applications can be filed with the USPTO, a PCT receiving office.

An international patent application has a number of benefits. First, it acts to grant an inventor additional time (around 30 months) to decide which particular countries to enter. The extra time is useful where the product is in an initial stages of development and marketing and further time is needed to establish the key market areas.

Secondly, the international application will be given an examination (international search report and written opinion) that can be used to further define and amend the application prior to entering individual countries. These international findings help the applicant to evaluate the strength of the patent application and are used to make necessary amendments. All international searches and reports are available to each of the national patent offices designated by the applicant for help later when deciding whether to grant the invention a national patent.

Third, cost savings may be realized if more than 3 or 4 national stage applications (direct filing in a particular country) will be filed. Although the initial filing fees for the international application are higher than the U.S., consolidated examination and amendments within the PCT often lead to cost savings when entering each foreign country via a national stage application.

It is important to determine early on in the patenting process whether you as a business or entrepreneur desires to expand patent protection to the international markets. The globalization of markets and intricate networking of economies necessitate its consideration. Patents are geographical in nature and each inventor should consider applying for a patent here in the U.S. and also in foreign countries.

International Trademark Law

Foreign applicants who want to pursue a U.S. trademark application or maintain a U.S. trademark registration now must comply with a new rule. The rule stipulates that foreign-domiciled applicants and registrants work with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office via a U.S.-licensed attorney.

This means that all individuals or business entities that want to file a new U.S. trademark application or maintain an existing U.S. trademark registration must work with a U.S.-licensed attorney. Applicable to all foreign-domiciled applicants, the rule even pertains to Canadian trademark attorneys and agents who used to be empowered to practice before the USPTO.

The rule went into effect on August 3, 2019. It is aimed at reducing the number of compliance problems with U.S. trademark laws and regulations before the USPTO. Officials say that the rule also will improve the accuracy of all submissions sent to the USPTO while protecting the U.S. trademark register’s integrity.

Requiring local legal representation to file trademark applications and other documents is common in other nations. USPTO officials believe that not making a similar requirement in the U.S. led to abuse of the registration system. This abuse took the form of inaccurate and in some cases fraudulent filings that were not in compliance with the law or the USPTO’s regulations. Some of the questionable applications and filings appeared to have been handled by foreign parties who were not authorized to practice before the USPTO.

The new law is designed to ensure that foreign applicants and registrants receive proper representation before the USPTO. Moreover, it is believed that requiring a U.S.-licensed attorney to collaborate on filings for foreign applicants will result in less fraud, fewer mistakes and enhanced compliance with the rules of the USPTO.

Anyone considering how to protect an invention or trademark nationally and internationally should seek the advice and assistance of an experienced patent lawyer. Seek qualified, knowledgeable legal patent counsel.

Patent It Yourself

Patent Steps

Obtaining patent protection for your invention is complicated. With an understanding of the steps involved in pursuing a patent, inventors will have a better grasp of how convoluted it is. An intellectual property lawyer’s familiarity with this intricate procedure helps entrepreneurs to receive the suitably broad protection that their invention deserves.

Use this overview to familiarize yourself with the patent application system, then reach out to a qualified attorney for money- and time-saving guidance.

Understand Your Invention

The better you know your invention, the better your chances are of pursuing patent protection. It’s critical to identify the aspects that make your invention novel. Whether your invention has one novel aspect or is groundbreaking from top to bottom, you’ll want to know each of these aspects intimately so that they can be described and claimed in your patent application.

Scope is another crucial consideration. Examine whether or not there are other methods of building your invention. Brainstorm all of the possible methods of making your invention even if they’re not as effective as your preferred method.

Further, take some time to consider whether or not your invention could have a broader application. If the invention could be used for a purpose beyond the intended one, would it need to be modified?

Spending time on each of these aspects helps you to understand your invention, which means that you may be able to claim broader protection.

Research Your Invention

The USPTO won’t grant a patent unless some aspect of your invention is new and novel. Accordingly, it’s sensible to be aware of the technology that came before. This means conducting an electronic search through the records of the USPTO for any issued patents or published applications that may be similar. You also may want to use a search engine to find any white papers, brochures or presentations that may disclose similar technology.

This helps you decide whether or not your invention is novel enough to receive a patent. However, patent searching is difficult. Whether or not a reference will interfere with your ability to obtain patent protection may turn on an obscure factor. It’s always sensible to ask a patent attorney to conduct a patent search and provide their legal opinion with regard to whether or not it’s reasonable to pursue a patent.

Choose the Type of Protection

By now, you’ve spent time thinking about and researching your invention. If you believe more tinkering is warranted, then you may want to file a provisional patent application. Such an application affords you an earlier filing date, effectively putting on record with the USPTO that you were the inventor of this item on this date. Then, you have one year within which to file your real patent application.

Your provisional patent application will never be examined, and it won’t become a patent unless you follow it up with a non-provisional patent application. This is the filing that the USPTO will review in detail.

Draft Your Patent Application

This is one of the most complex parts of the process. Get it wrong, and you risk being unable to obtain any kind of patent protection or detrimentally limiting the scope of any protection that you do get.

If you do plan to file by yourself, then it’s critical that you review the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure at the USPTO website. It’s heavy on the legalese, but it does lay out all of the required parts of a patent application. Follow it with great care, and you may have some success.

However, patent lawyers spend years understanding how to draft a patent application and honing their skills. This experience enables them to obtain the broadest and most meaningful protection for your invention. Remember, the better written your application is, the more likely it is that it will be allowed.

Wait for a Response from the USPTO

Months or a year or two later, you may receive a response, called an Office action, from the USPTO. Examiners at the USPTO are lawyers who possess specialized technological knowledge. Accordingly, they may reject the claims of a patent application using legal terms and citations that are unfamiliar to most inventors.

It is nearly always advisable to ask a patent attorney to respond to an Office action as they can do so in a manner that is acceptable to the USPTO and also may be persuasive.

Pursuing patent protection is difficult. It helps to have a qualified legal professional at your side to take the mystery out of the process. If you do need help let us know!

Why You Need a Patent Attorney

Don’t Lose Patent Rights

It is common for some individuals or small companies to attempt to navigate the patent system on their own in an effort to save money. With the prices charged by some competitors for patent work, their actions are understandable. However, this is not recommended. There are multiple deadlines and other various dates which can creep up unexpectedly resulting in missed opportunities and lost protection if you are not fully aware of the processes and law.

Currently, under U.S. patent law, an inventor can publicly disclose his invention without losing patent rights, provided that he files a patent application within one year of that disclosure. How does that affect your ability to file in foreign countries? Each country has some different patent rules. The America Invents Act that changed our patent system from a first-to-invent system to a first-to-file system is a step toward harmonization of our law with the rest of the world. However, differences still exist and the danger remains when traversing the process alone.

  • Can you advertise the invention for sale?
  • Can you share it to potential investors?
  • When do you need to file the application in view of your disclosure?

Posting information on a website is a public disclosure. Many foreign countries prohibit the patenting of an invention after disclosure has been made anywhere in the world. Disclosure to an investor may be OK provided that the investors are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Even with proper agreements in place, there is risk in disclosing to investors prior to a patent filing. Additionally, many investors won’t sign these agreements. In this case, the inventors should disclose as little as possible regarding the invention. If too much is disclosed, this could have a significant negative effect on patent rights. Even if the complete invention is not disclosed, the amount of the disclosure may cause the invention to be adjudged obvious in light of other prior art.

The bottom line is that patent deadlines that can result in loss of patent rights are another reason that inventors should work with a patent attorney who can guide them through the various deadlines and provide advice regarding US and foreign patent filings. Saving a bit of money up front often results in the loss of patent rights in the end.

How to Choose the Right Patent Attorney

  1. Are you comfortable talking with your attorney? An attorney is a counselor with regards to legal rights and obligations. They can be very important and useful. However, if you find it difficult to talk to your attorney or just don’t feel that connection then maybe look elsewhere. Additionally, if your attorney lacks the ability to communicate effectively or timely (return calls/emails) then look elsewhere. Trust is built up by effective and useful communication between two parties. If you can’t trust your attorney, then why are they your attorney?
  2. Focus on the competency of the attorney more than firm size. The firm size is not as important as the skill of the attorney working your file. Don’t be fooled by the stigma that attorneys at large firms are better than attorneys at small firms. The correlation between attorney competency and firm size is very small, if non-existent. The correlation between the size of your fee and firm size is more significant than you think. You rightfully should pay the attorney his/her reasonable value…you shouldn’t have to pay extra just because the firm is large.
  3. Don’t be fooled by the sales pitch. Become knowledgeable about the legal process as much as you can. Intellectual property law can be complex. Understanding when something sounds fishy or too good to be true can be difficult. Learn all you can and be prepared with some information when you see your patent attorney. Most are honest and give good advice…some just tell you what you want to hear.
  4. Ask about fees. Fees are done in three ways: Flat Fees, Hourly Fees, Contingency Fees. There is a reason and time for each type. Flat fees work great for transactional work – work that is maybe considered repetitive or easy to gauge in time. Hourly fees are used when the amount of work required is not so easy to predict. Contingency fees are used typically with litigation when the value of the work is based on some sort of settlement or award of money. In particular, ask the attorney how they compute their time and fees, and what sort of things they bill you for (i.e. short phone calls or emails).
  5. Location. Some areas of law require frequent consultations and interactions with an attorney. Think of family law for example. Intellectual property law for the most part does not require as much one-on-one time with your attorney. Keep in mind the attorney should be accessible for you, but the face-to-face meetings are not as necessary in this type of law. Much can be accomplished electronically or via email. Location may be useful but not an absolute necessity. The closest patent attorney is not always the best fit for you and your legal issue. Be open to the idea of looking a little farther out if it means finding a better intellectual property attorney to suit your personality and needs.

Contact us at either of our Houston or Dallas/Fort Worth offices for a free consultation.

How long does it take to get a patent?

When inventors attend a consultation with an attorney, it’s inevitable that they will ask, “How long does it take to get a patent?”

That’s a question that can be frustrating for even a seasoned patent attorney to answer. This is because there are so many variables at play.

It’s also important to remember that there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever receive a patent for your invention. It is a long, complex and potentially costly process. Ultimately, there may be no meaningful protection for your invention.

That’s why it’s critical for inventors and entrepreneurs to work with an intellectual property attorney right from the start. These professionals can advise you with regard to the potential patentability of your invention and perform a search to find out if something similar to your creation has already been patented. This can save you unimaginable amounts of time and money.

However, let’s say that your invention appears to be patentable, novel and unique. A patent search reveals that there’s nothing like it at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. How much time will it take to obtain a patent on that invention?

This depends on factors like the type of patent you are pursuing, whether or not you elect expedited processing, the art unit in which your application is reviewed and whether or not you can petition to make your application special. A closer look at these factors may help you to see how long it will take for you to get a patent.

Types of Patents

In the U.S., the three main categories of patents are utility, design and plant. Utility applications, which cover a machine, process or article of manufacture, are by far the most commonly sought. Designs, which cover surface ornamentation or the appearance of an article, are the second most common type of patent application. The third category is plants, and these applications cover a specific genetic combination of an engineered plant species.

Utility patent applications generally require the most time to process. The broader and more novel the subject matter of the application is, the longer it is likely to take to examine. If the improvement is close to known subject matter, then it is considered more limited in scope and likely will require less processing time.

Design patent applications tend to be examined far more quickly because they are shorter and less complicated. It is not unusual for a design patent to be issued within one to two years after filing. However, it may take anywhere from one to five years for a utility patent to be issued.

The Filling Process

A well-written patent application can be produced within a few weeks to a couple of months. The better written the application is, the more likely it is to be examined quickly and favorably. A competent patent attorney knows precisely what to disclose and how to disclose it to obtain the broadest and most meaningful protection possible.

Because the quality of the application is so critical, it is never a good idea for an inventor to write the patent application themselves. It is far better to trust this stage to a professional to save time and money.

Choosing Expedited Processing

Knowing that it can take as long as five years to move from application to issued patent, some inventors are opting for Track One Prioritized Examination procedures at the USPTO. Participation can move you toward final disposition of your application within just 12 months. It’s available for utility and plant applications, and you must pay an extra fee to request prioritized processing.

Art Units

Examiners at the USPTO are broken up into groups called “Art Units.” Art Units are categorized according to common types of technologies. Patent applications are assigned to examiners based on the technology involved in the invention. Some art units are busier than others. The more popular and complex the technology, the longer the processing times are likely to be.

A Petition to Make Special

If the inventor or applicant is over the age of 65 or is suffering from a life-threatening illness, then they may petition to make their application special. This provides them with expedited processing. No fee is required with these petitions, but documentation concerning the age or health of the applicant is mandatory.

If you want to obtain patent protection for your invention, then it’s wise to work with a qualified intellectual property attorney. These professionals take much of the guesswork out of pursuing a patent, which saves you time and money.