20 Tips on Patents Intellectual Property

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20 Tips on Patents Intellectual Property

As is revealed in discussions on the same over at runrex.com, patent protection is one of the most important ways to safeguard an asset. Patent protection offers a level of exclusivity that makes it valuable for businesses out there. This article will look to articulate 20 tips as far as patent go and, hopefully, you will be able to glean useful insights from the following tips.

What is a patent?

As captured in discussions over at guttulus.com, a patent is an agreement under which the federal government grants you a time-limited monopoly for your invention. A patent doesn’t give the inventor the right to practice his/her own invention but gives the patent owner the right to prevent others from practicing the patented invention.

How does an invention qualify for a patent?

To qualify to receive a patent, an invention must be “novel”. This, as discussed over at runrex.com, means the device or process must not have existed previously. The invention also needs to be “non-obvious”, which means that it should not be something that anyone could easily figure out on their own. Finally, the invention should be “useful”, which means that it should have some practical application.

Many patents are for inventions that improve existing inventions

According to the experts over at guttulus.com, many patents are for inventions that improve already existing inventions. This means that for an inventor, or the company the inventor works for, to use the patented invention in a product they manufacture and offer for sale, they may have to take a license from another patent owner.

Tips on reasons to file an application for a patent

There are several reasons to file an application for a patent and they include:

To protect market share

One of the reasons to file an application for a patent is to protect market share. This is because if your company produces a product that uses a patented invention, making the public, including your competitors, aware of your patent may prevent competitors from investing time and money in a competing product that might infringe your patent.

To make it easier to transfer your technology

A patent also provides legal protection and enables you to more easily license or sell your technology to others. therefore, if you are looking to license or sell your technology to others, then this is another reason to file an application for a patent.

To build a stronger patent portfolio

Another reason to file an application for a patent is to build a stronger patent portfolio as either an offensive or defensive strategy. As discussed over at runrex.com, if you end up suing a competitor for patent infringement, having all your proprietary technology patented enables you to mount a more effective offense. Likewise, if your competitor sues your company for patent infringement, a larger portfolio provides the best defense for counterclaim litigation or a cross-patent license.

These are some of the reasons to file an application for a patent.

Tips of types of patents

There are three types of patents issued by the USPTO under present law, and they include:

Utility patents

Utility patents are granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof as discussed over at guttulus.com.

Design patents

Design patents, on the other hand, deal with aesthetics rather than utility, just as their name suggests. As defined by the USPTO and covered in detail over at runrex.com, a design patent covers a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.

Plant patents

The third type of patent is a plant patent, which allows you to patent plants. The patent process of a plant patent is granted by the USPTO to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

For optimum protection, you should choose the right type of patent for your invention.

Should you patent your invention or keep it as a trade secret?

An alternative to applying for a patent for your invention, which will mean that you will have to disclose the invention as part of that process, is to keep the invention as a trade secret. If you are wondering whether to patent your invention or keep it as a trade secret, then you need to ask yourself how difficult it would be to reverse-engineer the product or process. If reverse-engineering your invention would be relatively easy, then the invention should be patented to protect it. This will protect it from being copied or from the possibility that your invention will be innocently and independently reinvented by another party.

When to go for trade secret protection over patent protection

On the other hand, as covered over at guttulus.com, if it would be very unlikely or virtually impossible for someone to reverse-engineer your invention, then a patent may not be the best choice, and trade secret protection may be a better choice. An advantage of trade secret protection is that it runs in perpetuity, unlike patent protection. A product should be protected by a patent while a manufacturing process or your special sauce may be better protected as a trade secret, as a rule of thumb.

Consult a patent attorney for the best results

According to the gurus over at runrex.com, you should consult a patent attorney to assist with the prosecution of the patent. Avoid trying to write and prosecute a patent application by yourself, as you may end up with no patent if the application for the patent is rejected by the Patent Office, with a patent that is too broad and, therefore invalid, or with one that is too narrow to provide much protection at all.

Choose the right attorney

As the experts over at guttulus.com are quick to point out, all patent attorneys and patent agents are not created equal. This is why you should consider the attorney’s technical background and expertise, and you should choose an attorney whose specialty area is the same as the field of your invention.

Don’t put too much weight on a provisional patent application

First of all, it is important to point out that there is no provisional patent, but a provisional patent application. While provisional patent applications have a place in the arsenal of IP tools, don’t make the mistake of thinking that once you have written and filed a provisional patent application, then your invention is protected. A provisional application establishes a filing date for your patent application and can be converted to a utility patent application within 12 months of its filing date.

Where should you file for patent protection?

You should file a patent application only in those countries where you intend to enforce the patent. As already mentioned, a patent gives you no right to practice your invention, so a patent is basically nothing but a right to exclude others (or license the patent or litigate for patent infringement with an opportunity to get an injunction and or damages awarded).

Patent pending

The gurus over at runrex.com also recommend that you use “patent pending” on products that the patent will cover once the application is filed as this will inform your competitors that the product will (hopefully) soon be patented. However, you should only use “patent pending” only if you have actually filed either a patent application or a provisional patent application. Remember, false usage of “patent pending” is against the law, and you can be fined for it.

Mark your product or service properly once issued with your patent

As articulated over at guttulus.com, once issued, you should also make sure that you properly mark your product or service with the relevant patent number(s) as this fulfills the “marking requirement” that gives infringers notice that the item is under patent protection. Failure to mark your products with the patent number may prevent you from collecting past damages. Marking is a necessary part of patent enforcement as it puts infringers on notice.

How to go about things if you believe your patent is being infringed

According to the experts over at runrex.com, if you believe your patent is being infringed, and are reasonably certain of that fact, you should proceed with caution. Do not contact an infringer about your claim of patent infringement as this could trigger a declaratory judgment (DJ). Also, don’t sit on your patent and do nothing as this may give the infringer what is called a “laches” defense which may lead to you not being able to collect damages for past infringement. Finally, engage a patent lawyer to help you enforce your patent.

Make a prototype

The government will require a detailed description of the invention you are seeking to patent. Here, there is no better way to accomplish this than to make an actual prototype, accompanied by a clear written description of how it works.

Prepare to spend money

Finally, it is worth noting that patents are not cheap, and when you factor in government fees and the cost of valuable help, the whole process can cost as much as $20,000. If you are planning to seek patent protection for your invention, then you should be prepared to put resources into the process.

These are some of the things you should know about when it comes to patents, with more on this and other related topics to be found over at runrex.com and guttulus.com.

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