What Is a Provisional Patent Application?

A great deal of intellectual property terminology is carelessly tossed around these days with the result that there’s confusion in the public about these terms. Consequently, people wonder about what a trademark is and how it’s different from a copyright. Or, they have serious questions about “provisional patents.”

This last question is especially troubling to legal professionals who work in the realm of intellectual property because there’s no such thing as a “provisional patent.”

However, there is a “provisional patent application,” and it can be a powerful tool for inventors in the U.S. Unlike a regular, non-provisional patent application, a provisional patent application is never examined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It is never published, and it will never mature into an actual patent.

This may make it sound as if filing a provisional patent application in the U.S. is a waste of time, but that is absolutely untrue. Some inventors have exceptionally good reasons for filing this type of application, and your patent practitioner may recommend that you do so based on the status of your invention.

Benefits of a Provisional Patent

  • A provisional patent costs significantly less than an actual patent.
  • It’s easier for someone to file a provisional patent on their own than an actual patent.
  • Inventor can use the “patent pending” on their idea for 12 months.
  • Gives the inventor time to build and test their patent and refine it.

First to File

In the U.S. and other countries, it doesn’t matter so much who is the first to invent a new product or process. Instead, the real race is to be the first person to file a patent application for the idea. This is because the law states that whoever is the first to file a patent application is the rightful owner of the invention.

If another individual files a patent application for the same invention, then they have virtually no chance of obtaining patent protection because someone else got there first. Accordingly, a provisional patent application is one tool that may be used to ensure that the applicant is the first to file the paperwork.

What Is Contained in a Provisional Patent Application?

A provisional patent application typically is shorter and less formal than a non-provisional patent application. This is because the disclosure will never be reviewed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Nonetheless, the provisional patent application must contain a clear and concise disclosure that adequately describes the subject matter of the invention.

Unlike a non-provisional patent application, a provisional patent application does not need to have claims. It may include drawings to further illustrate the subject matter of the application.

How much does a provisional patent cost?

There are some things that can change the cost but in general filing a provisional patent application with the USPTO can cost anywhere between $70-$280.

Once the provisional patent application is received and approved, the inventor is now entitled to describe the invention as patent pending throughout the 12 month allotted period.

Why File a Provisional Patent Application?

One of the main reasons to file a provisional patent application is to meet the first-to-file requirement in accordance with U.S. intellectual property law. The first person who files is far more likely to receive any available patent protection than an applicant with a later filing date.

The provisional application lasts for precisely 12 months. During this time, the applicant may make improvements or refinements to their invention. They also may work on formalizing their patent application, such as completing claims that more specifically point out the subject matter that they seek to protect.

Filing a provisional patent application also allows the inventor to say that their creation is patent pending. This can be enormously attractive when seeking funding or partners for the endeavor. Moreover, the filing of a provisional application provides an earlier effective filing date for any non-provisional or foreign application that is filed later.

Is a Provisional Application Right for You?

The best way to find out is by consulting with a qualified patent attorney. They can suggest the best method for seeking patent protection for your invention, and they may recommend performing a search to ensure that patent protection likely is available for your idea. In the long run, this saves you time and money.

Additional Things to Know

  • A provisional patent is valid for one year.
  • After the 12 month period a provisional patent application cannot be extended or renewed.
  • USPTO only reviews the provisional patent applications to make sure the meet the minimum filing requirements.
  • USPTO does not examine provisional patent applications.
  • A provisional patent cannot be file for a design.
  • Provisional patent applications are not generally published by the USPTO or publicly visible.

Closing

At the Law Office of Jeff Williams we help clients navigate through all the intricacies of intellectual property including provisional patent applications.

Patent Litigation

Patent attorneys spend most of their time working to obtain patent protection for their clients. However, their careers involve a second critical facet, that of pursuing patent litigation.

If you are concerned that someone is infringing your patent, or if someone has accused you of infringing their patent rights, contact Williams IP Law today. Otherwise, keep reading to learn more about patent litigation and why it’s important.

Defining Patent Litigation

When one party believes that another party is using their patented technology without permission, then the patent holder may choose to file a civil lawsuit against the allegedly infringing party. Typically, these legal actions are filed in a federal district court, and the plaintiff may ask for relief such as monetary damages and an injunction that prevents the infringer from using the protected technology.

The law requires that patent holders take action against an alleged infringer no more than six years after the infringing date.

The Importance of Patent Litigation

People obtain patents because they want to have the exclusive right to benefit from their hard work. Nonetheless, it is not unusual for another person or entity to infringe those rights. Thanks to patent litigation, it is possible for the wronged party to take the infringer to court.

Before beginning a lawsuit, it is critical to know that patent litigation is costly and that it can take years to settle a case. In many situations, the plaintiff is an individual or a small company while the defendant is a huge corporation with deep pockets.

Accordingly, it can be highly challenging for the plaintiff to prevail.

Penalties in Patent Litigation

When a plaintiff does win their case, then the court may impose one or more penalties on the defendant. These penalties may include actual damages, which are the profits that the patent holder lost due to the infringement, and royalties for the unauthorized use of the technology. Royalties usually are calculated based on other royalty agreements already in existence, the remaining term of the patent and the type of product that is covered by the patent.

The defendant also may be required to pay the legal costs incurred by the plaintiff. These may include attorney’s fees, litigation expenses and court filing fees.

Other possible penalties include an exclusion order through the International Trade Commission or a negotiated settlement. A negotiated settlement effectively ends the lawsuit without having to go to trial. However, negotiated settlements also may occur during the trial, giving the parties a chance to decide on a settlement that is not dictated by the judge.

In a negotiated settlement, the attorneys decide upon the appropriate monetary award for the plaintiff. This is the route that approximately 70 percent of all patent infringement lawsuits take, and these settlements are most frequently achieved within about one year of litigation. By contrast, only four percent of such lawsuits go to a judge’s decision at the end of trial.

The parties involved in a patent lawsuit alternatively may decide to settle their differences via mediation or arbitration rather than going to trial. Mediation can be an excellent means for avoiding the costs of a trial, and the process frequently leads to a settlement.

While defendants who lose a patent lawsuit frequently are ordered to pay penalties and costs, this may not be the end of the consequences. The court may decide to place a preliminary or permanent injunction on the infringer. A preliminary injunction may be issued at the start of the lawsuit if the plaintiff can demonstrate that they have a high probability of winning the case. The patent holder further must prove that they will suffer financial hardship if manufacturing and selling of the infringing product continues, and the preliminary injunction may be granted if there is no harm to the public’s interest or opinion.

Preliminary injunctions are rare because the standards for obtaining them are high.

At the end of the case, the court may grant a permanent injunction that prevents the infringer from manufacturing products with the infringing technology.

Patent Litigation Basics

Both federal and state laws cover patent litigation. Most lawsuits are concerned only with the federal patent laws. State patent laws are mainly focused on questions of patent ownership and contractual law.

Federal district courts handle patent litigation matters. Their responsibilities include interpreting the Constitution and the federal statutes, creating new laws, applying the federal rules of evidence to cases and applying the federal rules of civil procedure.

Another party that is critical to the patent process is the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, or USPTO. This is the government department that is responsible for examining patent applications and issuing patents. Many patent litigation cases begin in an office of the USPTO known as the Patent Trial and Appeal Board. When issues cannot be resolved at this level, then the parties may decide to file a lawsuit in federal court.

Who Has the Right to Sue?

In general, the co-owners of a patent, the patent holder or an exclusive licensee of the patent have standing to sue an alleged infringer. It is not possible for non-exclusive licensees or distributors to sue for patent infringement.

Who does the patent holder sue? Usually, it is the person or entity that produces, sells, imports or uses the product that infringes the patent. The plaintiff also may choose to sue any person or entity that contributes to these activities.

Employees of a company may be personally liable for the infringement, but the company’s directors are not necessarily liable as well. A person is only considered liable if they had either indirect or direct knowledge of the patent infringement and they had willful blindness. Willful blindness refers to steps taken to avoid learning about the patent itself.

The courts have the discretion to add or remove parties that are suing or parties that are being sued.

The Types of Patent Infringement

Assessing patent infringement involves comparing the patent claims and the allegedly infringing product.

It may be discovered that literal infringement has occurred, in which case a direct relationship is established between the product and the words included in the claims of the patent.

Contributory infringement may occur when a third-party is responsible for giving the infringing party a component that has no utility beyond creating an infringing product.

When the infringer intentionally disregards someone else’s patent, then willful infringement may have taken place.

Infringement may be either direct or indirect. Direct infringement involves a competitor manufacturing a copy of another company’s product without the permission of the patent holder while indirect infringement occurs when a person or entity assists a third party to make a product that infringes a patent.

Even if the court determines that no actual infringement is occurring, it is possible that the doctrine of equivalents will come into play. This doctrine broadly states that a product may infringe a patent if it produces similar results in the same way. While the doctrine of equivalents does have limitations, it can be a powerful tool in patent litigation.

Defenses for Patent Infringement

What if you find yourself in the unenviable position of being sued for patent infringement? The best course of action is to engage the services of a skilled patent litigation attorney. This legal professional will have numerous defenses that can be used to fight the allegations.

These defenses may include proving that the patent at issue is not novel and that its claims are obvious to someone who is skilled in the art. Your attorney may uncover false information provided by the patent holder to the USPTO when they applied for the patent.

Arguments against the patent’s usefulness, a lack of description or the definiteness of the claims similarly may be available. Other defenses also may prove useful.

Get Legal Counsel First

Whether you believe that your patent is being infringed or you are being sued for patent infringement, it is critical that you do nothing before speaking with a qualified patent litigation lawyer.

At the outset of such a complicated legal matter, it is impossible to know how things might turn out in the end. The things that you say and do in the beginning of the case may make things more complicated for you down the road.

If you receive a letter from a person or company claiming that your products are infringing their patent, call an attorney before making any kind of reply.

Similarly, if you stumble across a product that you believe infringes your patent, it is always wisest to contact an intellectual property lawyer before taking any steps.

These legal professionals are adept at interpreting the claims of patents and comparing products to those claims. With their assistance, you can begin to either enforce your patent rights or refute the allegations of infringement made by a patent holder.

The critical thing is to remain calm. Then, ask for legal advice. Many of these situations can be resolved with a couple of letters and perhaps a few telephone conferences. Most of them never turn into lawsuits. Going to trial is even rarer.

When you work with competent legal counsel, you stand a much better chance of achieving the outcome you are hoping for.

Contact Williams IP Law

Jeff Williams and the staff at Williams IP Law have helped many clients deal with patent litigation. These situations can be complex and immensely challenging, but with the right experience and legal knowledge, it frequently is possible to resolve them well before a lawsuit or a trial is necessary.

Contact Jeff Williams today to schedule a consultation about any potential patent litigation matters.

What is a patent broker?

When a large company obtains a patent, they frequently have the resources that are required to put it to use. That is, they have a manufacturing division that will be building the new product. Or, perhaps the patent covers a small refinement to an existing product. In this case as well, the company will simply incorporate the new component into their assembly process.

However, it is not only multi-national conglomerates that obtain patents. Some patents are owned by individuals or a very small new business that is just getting started. What can you do with a patent when you don’t also own a factory and a warehouse?

Many options are available, such as licensing your patent rights to a company that wants to make your product or incorporate it into their existing product.

Another option is to sell your patent rights through a patent broker.

What Is a Patent Broker?

Imagine that you own a home that you would like to sell. In order to save yourself some money on Realtor commissions, you decide to list the home yourself.

The problem with this approach is that it’s quite a bit of work. Despite staging the home and holding several “open house” events, several weeks or even months go by without anyone making an offer on the property.

You start to get worried. A great deal of time and money has been spent trying to get this house sold, but nothing is happening.

Would it have been better to engage a Realtor in the first place?

A patent broker is kind of a like a Realtor for a patent. They use their business connections to try to sell your patent. Sometimes, this happens in an auction.

This sounds like the ideal set up, and in some cases, it can work. However, working with a patent broker usually isn’t the best option for a number of reasons.

Potential Problems with Patent Brokers

As in any profession, some patent brokers are more trustworthy than others. This is problematic because it can be difficult to know which broker can be relied upon and which one is really just looking after his own interests.

Consider that a patent broker is allowed to represent both the buyer and the seller in any transaction. This means that the broker isn’t wholly vested in making certain that you, the seller, gets the best possible deal. Obviously, this can be bad news for the patent owner.

Another problem is that patent brokers sometimes offer to buy a patent at one price, but then sell the patent to someone else at a much higher dollar amount. This represents a nice profit for the broker, though it hardly seems fair to the original patent owner.

Moreover, patent brokers may collect a finder’s fee from the buyer of the patent, which may again cause them to put their interests above those of the seller.

It’s also possible that patent brokers may share privileged or confidential information with a potential buyer. If you have data that you prefer to keep confidential, then you may not want to work with a broker.

Working with a Patent Attorney Is Different

When you engage a patent attorney, they are legally and ethically bound to solely protect your interests. Your attorney may represent you in a transaction, but he most certainly will not also be representing the other side, which would be a clear conflict of interest. The result is that you are much more likely to close a fair deal.

You attorney will always keep your confidential information private, even while negotiating a purchase contract, which means that you don’t have to worry about proprietary data getting into the wrong hands.

Just as critically, a patent attorney can provide you with valuable legal advice regarding the scope of your invention so that it can be implemented without infringing someone else’s patent.

Intellectual property lawyers even can assist you to explore patent monetization strategies that can help you put your patent to work while cutting out the expense and potential pitfalls of working with broker.

Work with Williams IP Law

If you have obtained a patent, then it’s vital to realize that this is a valuable asset to you or your business. Getting a patent is costly and time-consuming, which means that you are probably excited about the opportunity to actually start making a profit from all of your hard work.

Is engaging a patent broker the right step? It might be, but in most cases it is wiser to work with an experienced patent attorney like Jeff Williams who can provide the sensible guidance that you need.

If you are looking for a way to monetize your patent, contact the Law Office of Jeff Williams today.

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.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. Choose the Type of Patent 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.

4. 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. We have also have another blog specifically on patent drafting.

Benefits of Self-Drafting

Below are some of the benefits of preparing and filing your own patent application:

  • You can potentially save thousands in patent attorney costs.
  • You are more flexible on when you file and do not have to wait on anyone else’s schedule.

Risks of Self-Drafting

Below are some of the risks of preparing and filing your own patent application:

  • Costly mistakes in preparing the patent application could result in the loss of some or all of your patent rights.
  • A significant amount of time will need to be spend learning how to prepare and file a patent application.
  • You may not be ready to file for patent protection in foreign countries within one-year of your patent application.

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.

5. 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!

We have also written a more in depth step by step patent process to assist.

How to Conduct a US Patent Search

Before filing a patent application, most intellectual property lawyers recommend that their clients authorize them to perform a patent search.

However, it’s not unusual for many clients, especially those who are extremely conscious of costs, to forego a search.

While this frequently is inadvisable, it’s by no means prohibited. There is no legal requirement that a patent search be performed before an application is filed.

Still, it can be useful to know before filing an application whether or not patent protection is likely to be available. Even more critically, it helps to know what scope of protection is likely available. For instance, is this truly a brand new, never-before-seen invention or is this a refinement of existing products?

If it’s the latter, then it’s helpful to be able to narrow down the valuable nugget of the improvement so that the claims can be directed to this subject matter.

What is a patent search, and how is one performed? Let Williams IP Law guide you through this complex subject.

What Is a Patent Search?

Sometimes called a patentability search, this is a search through existing patents and other documents that are available to the public. These patents and documents are referred to as “prior art.”

The purpose of the patent search is to find the prior art that comes the closest to your invention. Effectively, this is what an Examiner at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office also does, looking for prior art that may be used to argue that your invention is obvious and not new when compared with the prior art.

While this type of search will not tell you whether or not your invention will infringe someone else’s patent, it can identify the closest prior art to help with a determination as to how patentable the invention is and which parts are unique when compared with the prior art.

The purpose of the patent search is to save the inventor time and money. After all, what’s the use of paying to have an application drafted, filed and examined if the invention has already been patented?

The cost of a patent search is far less expensive in comparison.

Can You Do Your Own Patent Search?

Some inventors decide to perform their own patent search to save some money. This may make it more affordable for them to proceed with the drafting and filing of the application.

If you’re interested in doing your own patent search, use these steps:

  1. Brainstorm descriptive terms
  2. Search CPC scheme at the USPTO website
  3. Review the classification definition
  4. Find issued patents using the appropriate CPC classification
  5. Review each patent
  6. Find published patent applications
  7. Consider broadening your search

Let’s take a closer look at each of these steps.

Brainstorming

The first step involves writing a description of your invention. Try to be as specific as possible, and consider synonyms for any of the words that you might use to define or describe your invention.

Are there certain keywords or technical terms that describe your invention? It may be helpful to consult resources such as dictionaries and thesauruses to get ideas.

Searching CPC Schema

Now, it’s time to visit the USPTO.gov website. Use the search text box at the top right corner of the screen.

In the search box, enter “CPC scheme” and one of the keywords that you brainstormed in the first step.

The USPTO follows CPC classification schema. When you type “CPC scheme” into the search box, it will return results that include entries on the Class-Subclass Scheme page.

You can run this search as many times as you like, searching for other keywords to find the classification titles that look most relevant to your invention.

An example class/subclass classification or identifier might look like “2/456.” The two corresponds to Class 2, which is Apparel while the 456 subclass refers to Body cover.

Review Classifications

Some of the classification titles in your search results will be underlined. If so, then this title is hyperlinked to a CPC Classification Definition. These definitions are useful when it comes to establishing the scope of the chosen classification. Accordingly, this helps to determine if you have found the most relevant classification.

Clicking on these hyperlinks always is worthwhile because they may provide further search suggestions or search notes.

Find Patents Using the CPC Classification

Head back to the Home page at the USPTO.gov website, and click on the Find It Fast Quick links Patent window located just below the search text box.

This will bring up a link labeled PatFT under the Patents heading. Click on this link to go to the patent search page.

The CPC Classification that you found can be placed in the search menu under Term 1. For the Field, choose Current CPC Classification.

Click Search, and you’ll receive a list of issued patents. Click on the number or title of any listed patents to read the full text of the patent. Some will have an “Images” button that will give you a full PDF of the patent.

It’s wise to review at least the first page of all of the entries. If you find any that seem really similar to your invention, make note of them.

Review Selected Patents

Now it’s time to fully examine each patent that you made note of in your search. Pay particular attention to the drawings and claims to determine just how similar they are to your invention.

Find Patent Publications

Go back to the USPTO.gov main page. Once again, click on the Quick Links window, but this time, select the AppFT under the Patents heading.

This takes you to a similar search screen, but now you are searching for published patent applications which have not issued as patents.

The search process is the same as far as entering in the CPC Classification number and reviewing for the most relevant results.

Broadening Your Search

It may be wise to use the PatFT and AppFT search systems to look for keywords as well. Additionally, some inventors decide to look for foreign patents using the Espacenet website. This could be especially important if you have hopes of patenting your invention in other countries.

Patent Searching Is Imperfect

No matter who conducts your patent search, it is critical to realize that no patent search is perfect. It is impossible to find absolutely every reference that might have some relevance, and there may be unpublished patent applications that are not available at the time of your search but that become available by the time your application is being examined.

In other words, a patentability search can provide guidance and insight, but it is in no way any kind of guarantee that you will get a patent for your invention.

Opt for a Professional Patent Search

Patent searching is complex, and it usually is advisable to have a professional conduct the search so that you get the broadest possible picture of the prior art before you go to the trouble and expense of filing a patent application.

Contact Williams IP Law today if you have more questions about patent searching or filing patent applications. Our experienced practitioners and staff can guide you through the process of pursuing patent protection.

How long does it take to get a patent?

We outline how long it takes to get a patent and what you should expect throughout the patent application process.

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 Patents

Utility applications, which cover a machine, process or article of manufacture, are by far the most commonly sought.

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 Patents

Designs, which cover surface ornamentation or the appearance of an article, are the second most common type of patent application.

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.

Plant Patents

The third category is plants, and these applications cover a specific genetic combination of an engineered plant species. A plant patent is granted by the United States government to an inventor who has invented or discovered and asexually reproduced a distinct and new variety of plant, other than a tuber propagated plant or a plant found in an uncultivated state.

Plant patents normally take close to two years for the patent office to grant or reject a plant patent application.

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.

Abandonment & Allowance

Abandoned means that the trademark application is no longer pending and cannot mature into registration. This will happen because you’ve given up on the pursuit or you lost track of the process.

In the application process the examining attorney will issue an office action letter to the applicant stating the status of the of the application. The applicant then has up to 6 months to respond if they want to continue through the process or the patent will be considered abandoned.

Closing

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.

What Is Patent Litigation?

When an individual inventor or a company is granted a patent, it means that they have the legal right to prevent others from benefitting from their hard work. Any competitor that is making or selling an infringing product may be sued by the patent holder.

Litigation is always a risky, expensive and time-consuming process. Nonetheless, it also is a critical component of protecting intellectual property rights. When two parties enter into a serious dispute, sometimes a lawsuit is the only way to settle their differences.

If you are a patent owner and you believe that your rights are being infringed by a competitor, then contact Williams IP Law to learn more about your legal rights and options.

What Is Patent Litigation?

This type of action is a lawsuit that is filed in civil, rather than criminal, court. Usually, these types of lawsuits are filed when someone who holds a patent believes that another person is using their invention without permission.

Keep in mind that litigation is not the first step in the process when infringement is suspected. It is common for a lawsuit to be filed only as a last resort after the alleged infringer absolutely refuses to acknowledge or address the concerns of the patent holder.

Most patent litigation matters only come to a lawsuit after months of back and forth between attorneys. Once a lawsuit is filed, it may be months, and most likely years, before the matter is resolved.

How Does Patent Litigation Work?

Neither party is likely to enter the patent litigation process lightly. Typically, a lawsuit only becomes necessary when both parties have dug in their proverbial heels, with both sides insisting that they are the rightful owner of the technology at issue.

Like other civil lawsuits, these matters begin with the filing of a Complaint by the plaintiff, who usually is the patent owner. Then, the defendant is required to file an Answer.

What follows is usually many months of research, depositions and discovery. It may be necessary to sift through thousands of documents, depose critical witnesses and locate experts who can help to shore up either side of the case.

Frequently, the claims in the lawsuit come down to whether or not the patent is valid. The patent owner naturally claims that their patent is valid while the attorney for the defendant must argue why the patent is invalid. This can be a complex determination that rests on detailed knowledge of technical and patent-related matters.

This is a complicated and time-consuming process. However, it’s also a critical component of any patent lawsuit. In fact, many of these lawsuits are settled at the discovery stage because some evidence or testimony comes to light that illustrates the validity of the claim of one party or the other. There may even be a mountain of evidence proving the claims of one party.

Even if such evidence never comes to light, this stage of the lawsuit can be a war of attrition. One party or the other may conclude that continuing the fight just isn’t worth their time and money. Occasionally, both parties reach this decision and come up with a settlement agreement that at least partially satisfies everyone.

Will Your Case End up in Court?

Like other civil litigation matters, most patent lawsuits never make it to their court date. If your lawsuit does go the distance, this means significantly increased expenses for both parties. However, if they are unable to reach any kind of accord before the trial begins, they are left with no other choice.

Do You Need Patent Litigation?

Whether you are an individual inventor or work for a company that owns an important patent, then it is crucial for you to protect your rights. Unfortunately, this sometimes means being faced with the decision to file a patent lawsuit.

Given that such litigation is costly, complicated and time-consuming, the representation that you choose matters. It’s essential that you seek legal counsel with the right kind of knowledge and experience to see you through the process from beginning to end.

At Williams IP Law, our legal professionals work with inventors every day. Not only do we help people and companies to obtain the intellectual property protection that they need but also we represent them when it’s time to enforce their rights.

With considerable patent litigation experience, Williams IP Law is the firm that you need when you’re concerned that your intellectual property rights have been violated.

What Does a Patent Attorney Do?

When most people think of attorneys, they picture them in courtroom appearances making dramatic speeches to a panel of jurors. The reality is that many attorneys rarely work in courtrooms, and there are even some lawyers who never appear in court at all.

The patent attorneys who prosecute patent applications are among these latter attorneys who essentially never have to make a court date. Instead, they practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Some patent attorneys also practice in patent litigation, which means that they may bring lawsuits that are heard by a judge and possibly a jury.

Regardless of whether they focus on patent prosecution or litigation, patent attorneys practice in a small, specialized area of law. In fact, not everyone who is graduated from law school and passes a bar exam is qualified to be a patent attorney.

Instead, patent attorneys are required to have a scientific or technical background. This usually means that they have obtained an undergraduate degree in a scientific, engineering or other technical subject area. After that four-year education, they proceed to three years of law school, at the conclusion of which, they must pass the bar exam for the state in which they hope to practice. Then, they must pass a test that is administered by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that frequently is referred to as the “patent bar exam.”

Typically, before taking the patent bar exam, a new attorney obtains employment with an intellectual property law firm. The experienced practitioners at the firm guide and counsel the new attorney so that he or she gets familiar with the patent prosecution process. This also provides essential preparation for passing the patent bar exam.

Once the attorney has the credentials to practice before the USPTO, they are a full-fledged patent lawyer and able to help clients obtain the intellectual property protection that they need.

What Does a Patent Attorney Do?

When an individual or company invents a new product or process, then they may seek help from an intellectual property attorney who can help them to obtain a patent.

The process begins with a meeting between the client and the patent attorney. The client provides details about their invention, and the lawyer provides insight into the patenting process, what’s involved, how much it may cost and how long it is likely to take.

The client decides whether or not they want to proceed with either a search or an application. Attorneys perform a patent search to determine whether or not there are existing patents or patent applications on which the proposed invention disclosure might infringe. At the conclusion of the search, the attorney can provide a more educated estimate with regard to the potential patentability of the invention.

If the client indicates that they want to proceed with a patent application, then the intellectual property attorney makes an in-depth study of the technological area and gathers additional details regarding the invention from the inventors.

An intensive period of writing ensues as the patent attorney drafts the specification, claims and abstract that make up the application. The specification intricately describes the invention and all of its possible permutations while the claims point out the specific elements that the applicant wants to protect. The abstract is a summary of the specification.

The Filing of the Patent Application

The patent attorney’s firm handles submission of the completed patent application to the USPTO. Eventually, the application will be reviewed by another lawyer who works at the USPTO as an Examining Attorney. It’s the examiner’s job to decide on the patentability of the application. If the examiner believes that the invention isn’t patentable, then they will issue an Office action.

This is where the patent attorney steps in again, drafting amendments and a response to the Office action, arguing why the invention actually is distinct and patentable. Relying on their training, patent lawyers make legal arguments against the rejections to convince the examiner to issue a patent.

Patent Attorneys Fight Infringement

Intellectual property lawyers who litigate are adept at enforcing patent rights with all of the means at their disposal. This may include filing lawsuits when someone else infringes a patent holder’s rights. Not all of these cases actually make it to the courtroom. In fact, many of them are settled well before they are brought before a judge or jury. Still, the patent litigation attorney provides helpful, knowledgeable guidance with incredibly complicated court cases, ensuring that patent holders are able to protect their interests.

Do You Need a Patent Attorney?

Obtaining patent protection requires knowledge of an array of technical and legal factors. This is why it is generally recommended that inventors work with a patent attorney when it is time to protect their invention.

The experienced practitioners at the Williams IP Law are skilled when it comes to helping individuals and companies protect their intellectual property. If you believe that you need patent protection, then contact Jeff Williams to schedule an initial consultation.