Texas Patent Attorney
When you or your business develop an invention, regardless of whether it is a completely new product or modifications to an existing product, you need to protect your rights and ownership of this invention. Filing for patent protection provides the most complete level of protection and verifies you as the creator. An experienced patent attorney at Eddington & Worley can not only help you apply for a patent but also help you when you need to defend it if someone infringes on your protection.
Our Texas intellectual property law firm is ready to help you establish your rights and safeguard your inventions. Call our office today at (281) 595-1519to speak with one of our expert attorneys. Your initial consultation is free, allowing you to get answers to any questions you may have about the patent process or defending an existing patent.
What is a Patent?
A patent is like the property right for an invention. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues this grant of property rights. Usually, a new patent remains valid for 20 years from the date of application of the patent filed in the United States. For special cases, the period may start from an earlier date when the application was first filed, subject to paying maintenance fees. The patent granted to the inventor is effective only with the United States, the US possessions, and the US territories. In some cases, the client may adjust or extend the patent terms.
According to the grant or the statute itself, the patent grant means the right or ability to exclude others from using, selling, making, or offering for sale, the invention that took place in the United States. The patent grant doesn’t restrict from making, using, importing, or selling, but gives the right to exclude anyone from performing these actions on the invention. Once the patentee gets the patent, he/she should enforce it without aiding the USPTO.
There are three types of patents:
These are for clients who discover or invent new, useful processes, article of manufacture, composition of matter, or machine, or anything new and useful for improving something.
These are for clients who invent original, authentic, ornamental designs for an item of manufacture.
These are for clients who discover or invent and also asexually produces a new variety or a unique plant.
The role of the US Patent and Trademark Office
The USPTO or United States Patent and Trademark Office is one of the agencies of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Their role is to allow patents to protect inventions and also register trademarks. It works to safe keep the interests of businesses and inventors for their respective corporate products and services and invention identifications. The body also helps and advises the Secretary of Commerce, the President of the United States, the offices and bureaus of the Department of Commerce, and also various other agencies of the government involved in global and domestic aspects related to “intellectual property.” Their objective is to disseminate, classify, and preserve patent information. The USPTO also promotes technological and industrial progress of a nation and also strengthens its economy.
The USPTO examines different applications and allows patents as a part of discharging its patent-related duties. They are responsible for publishing and disseminating patent information, maintaining search files of the US and foreign patents, recording assignments of patents, and also maintain a search room to examine issued records and patents. The USPTO provides copies of official records and patents to the public. It also offers training to practitioners so that they can follow patent regulations and statutes. Their duty also includes publishing the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure. These functions are similar when it comes to trademarks. It tries to protect intellectual endeavors and also encourage technological progress. This allows USPTO to preserve the technological edge of the US, which is essential for the present and future competitiveness. It also disseminates trademark and patent information so that they can promote intellectual property protection and also facilitate and share new technologies worldwide.
The Constitution of the United States allows Congress to enact laws when it comes to patents. According to Article I, section 8, Congress will have the power to promote the progress of useful arts and science. They can secure exclusive rights from inventors and authors to ensure the success of their discoveries and writings. This power allowed Congress to enact different laws related to patents from time to time. The first patent law goes back to 1790. The patent laws had a general revision in July 19, 1952, which came into effect on January 1, 1953. You can find the revised laws in Title 35, United States Code. Congress also introduced the American Inventors Protection Act of 1999 (AIPA) on November 29, 1999, that further tweaked the patent laws. You can check the Public Law 106-113, 113 Stat. 1501 (1999).
The patent law includes the subject matter for which the client requires a patent. It also has the conditions for patentability. The United States Patent and Trademark Office can administer the law to grant patents. It also contains several patent-related provisions.
What Can You Actually Patent?
All of the specifics pertaining to patents can be found within the codified patent law. This includes specifications about subjects that can and cannot be patented and the conditions that must be satisfied in order for a patent to be filed and successfully obtained. Looking at the specifics within patent law statutes; individuals who “invents or discovers any new (as defined by patent law) and specifically useful process (or part of one), machine (simple or complex), manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof (subject to some restrictions), may obtain a patent,” within all other specifications, requirements, and conditions set forth by law.
The first word, “process,” is most related to industry and technology, and is defined as any process, act, or method used within those fields. The meaning of the term “machine” doesn’t need any explanation, all machines, simple and complex, can be patented. “Manufacture” refers to any product or article produced and includes anything you can imagine fitting into this category. Next, “composition of matter,” refers to the chemical makeup or composition of different formulas. It can be both ingredients in compounds and finished chemical compounds that were previously undiscovered. Together, these cover almost everything that is created and all of the processes that are used in creation by the human race.
Per the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, atomic weapon-related materials, processes, and any utilization of atomic energy solely for weapon purposes cannot be patented.
Under patent law, any subject that is being patented must be “useful.” This means that anything patented must actually work, it must work for the purposes it is being patented for, and that operation must be observably functioning. Any object, process, or subject that isn’t functional will not be granted a patent. Because of this requirement, there have been a number of court decisions and upheld verdicts about things that cannot be patented. Among these are naturally occurring phenomena, abstract ideas, and anything under the laws of nature cannot be patented.
One cannot obtain a patent based on an idea or a suggestion without proof. This means that any patent is granted upon the completion of the machine, manufacture, or other patent worthy qualifications, not upon the conception of the idea. For this reason, all patents must have a complete description of the actual process, machine, or other subject matter when they are filed.
Non-Obvious and Novelty Patents; The Conditions Necessary For Patent Approval.
All inventions that are patented must be new. In the case of a patent, this is defined within patent law that an invention is not considered new if it ” … was patented, described in a printed publication (any publications, traditional or not will qualify), or in public use (such as being given away for free, etc), on sale, or otherwise available to the public before … filing of it” … was described in a patent issued (within the USA) or in an application for patent published or deemed to have been published, in which the aforementioned, as the case may be, names another inventor (or co-creator) and was effectively filed before the (as defined above) effective filing date.”
There are exceptions to the two clauses listed above. Most notably, an exception exists “disclosure made 1 year or less before the effective filing date of the claimed invention,” but only if “the disclosure was made by the inventor or joint inventor or by another who obtained the subject matter disclosed… from the inventor or a joint inventor.”In the first prohibition, the referenced “otherwise available to the public” covers situations such as lectures, public speeches, the creation of YouTube™ videos, podcasts, websites, statements made on radio, and other forms of online communication.
Within both of the prohibitions the term “Effective filing date of the claimed invention” appears. This term specifies the actual filing date of the first application containing information about the subject matter. Assuming that a past application for a U.S. non-provisional patent has enough description of the invention in question the “effective filing date of the claimed invention” can be the date of the first patent filed. If a patent is filed that is either a division or a continuation of another parent, this date can be the date of the first patent that fully described the invention in question, even if a patent has already been granted for that idea. One last option for the “effective filing date of the claimed invention” is the date on a foreign patent application in another country assuming the patent in that country contains enough information to satisfy the descriptive requirements of a USA patent.
If differences in a situation where previous art, applications, or information is slightly altered from the original or different in slight ways are obvious but not necessarily large, then a patent may be refused. It is required that any subject you seek to patent be different from any other patent in use or description. This also includes a requirement for changes to be “non-obvious” to any persons with ordinary skill levels or interest in the technology in question. Things like changes in item color, size, and other such small variations are normally unable to be patented.
Do You Need a Patent Lawyer for Your Business?
A patent is a type of intellectual property that gives the holder the right to exclude others from using, making, or importing the patented invention. Patents are typically sought and obtained from the USPTO for any useful and new process, manufacture, machine, composition of matter, or any useful and new improvement thereof. A patent can even be obtained for a product’s design. Having a good patent attorney helps.
The federal government grants patent rights for a specific amount of time, typically for 20 years, during which no other party has the right to use, import, or make the patented invention without authorization from the holder of the permission.
Permission can be obtained via a licensing agreement. If there’s any unauthorized manufacture or use of a patented invention, it most likely constitutes patent infringement, and the owner of the patent can sue for damages. Upon expiration of the patent, the invention enters the public domain, which means that anyone can use the invention at that time without such use constituting patent infringement.
It can be complicated to obtain and enforce a patent, but the intellectual property rights associated with the protection of patents can be a valuable asset for your business. The lawyers at Eddington & Worley will help you seek and enforce patent rights and help you better understand the benefits patent protection can offer your business.
Patent Searching and Legal Opinions
Businesses sometimes want to know what the chance of success will actually be before they get started with the patent application process and commit their time and resources trying to secure protection for their patents. A qualified patent lawyer can perform a patent search and offer a patentability opinion regarding the chances of the patent being granted if patent protection is sought.
In a similar fashion, before getting into a licensing agreement or being involved in litigation for patent infringement, businesses can obtain legal opinions regarding infringement opinions, right-to-use inventions, as well as validity opinions. One excellent way to protect the business from wasting resources in the long run is to have patent-related legal opinions.
International and Domestic Patents
You can obtain patents in the United States as well as abroad. Patents obtained in the U.S. are only enforceable in the U.S. Numerous other countries too have their own patenting systems and many countries often collaborate to allow patent protection to be sought in multiple countries with just one patent application.
If your company engages in international business, it can be a good intellectual property strategy to seek patent protection domestically or even abroad in the countries where you sell your products.
Patent Protection and Enforcement
If you have a patent on a product and somebody tries to copy the product, it is highly likely that your patent rights have been infringed. You can file a patent infringement lawsuit to sue for damages in such a situation. If the patent was knowingly infringed by the infringer, you could be entitled to three times the damages for willful infringement.
When Does a Business Need a Patent Lawyer?
A patent attorney can help protect your intellectual property rights, which could be the most valuable asset owned by your business. Our lawyers can provide protection from competitors and serve as a deterrent against others that are making and selling a product similar to your patented product.
If you or your business have developed a unique piece of machinery, process, or other patentable items, obtaining a patent attorney is in your best interest. Additionally, if your business already holds a patent or patents, you will likely need a lawyer to help you defend your patent from infringement.
Contact a Patent Attorney at Eddington & Worley Today!
Obtaining and protecting patents is a vital part of many successful businesses. Protected materials provide a significant competitive advantage and are likely crucial to the business remaining viable. Don’t let your innovation and hard work fall into the hands of your competition, protect yourself and your business today.
If you have questions about the patent process, need to file for a patent, or are looking to defend against infringement, call our expert patent attorneys today at (281) 595-1519. We are available to help you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We understand the importance of your inventions to your business and will work with you to safeguard against any adverse actions. Contact our Texas intellectual property law firm today to schedule your free initial consultation.