|Patent Applications - Frequently
What's the difference between a Patent Agent and a Patent Attorney?
For the purposes of researching, drafting, filing and prosecuting patent
applications, a Patent Agent and a Patent Attorney have met the same registration
criteria, and are equivalent. The key differences are that a Patent Agent
isn't a lawyer, cannot litigate, and cannot work with trademarks or copyrights.
These differences don't matter for obtaining a patent.
What exactly does having a patent do for me?
Quoting the United States Patent and Trademark Office, "A patent
is a type of property right. It gives the patent holder the right, for
a limited time, to exclude others from making, using, offering to sell,
selling, or importing into the United States the subject matter that is
within the scope of protection granted by the patent."
How long is a patent good for?
A patent is granted for a term of 20 years. This term begins on the issue
date and generally ends 20 years from the date on which the original U.S.
application was filed.
How long does it take to get a patent?
The average successful patent application takes about 2-3 years from initial
filing to issue. A simple application that proceeds without any claim
rejections or other complications may take much less time, (although that
is very rare) and a complex application may take much longer.
What are the basic Patent Office fees involved in obtaining a patent?
In the past few years the USPTO has broken up the basic fees into smaller
pieces and then has increased each one separately. For filing a patent
there is now a filing fee, a search fee and an examination fee. When a
patent is allowed there is an issue fee and a publication fee. Over the
life of a patent there are three maintenance fees. The
current fees can be found in the Fees section of the USPTO website.
For small businesses and many private inventors it may be possible to
pay the discounted Small Entity fees, and for some inventors there are
the even more discounted Micro Entity fees.
In addition to these basic fees, there may be other Patent Office fees
involved in defending the patent claims against rejection by the patent
examiner during the prosecution phase. There is also the amount charged
at each phase by the patent agent or attorney for their work. This will
vary depending on the complexity of the invention, the body of prior art
to be researched, and what sort of rejections (very likely) are offered
by the patent examiner.
What's the difference between a utility patent and a design patent?
A utility patent covers the way something works; a design patent protects
the exterior appearance of an article of manufacture and can overlap
copyright and trademark protection. All design patents have "D"
before the number. Like utility patents, design patents must be novel
and unobvious. Design patents last 14 years from the date of issue and
are not subject to maintenance fees. The filing and issue fees for design
patents are much lower than those for utility patents.
What about patents in other countries?
A U.S. patent is in effect within the United States only. It is possible
to apply for patents in other countries. International patent applications
are a very expensive and complex matter, and generally require the assistance
of a patent firm present in the specific country to act as a local specialist.
At this time I'm not doing any international patent applications, only
U.S. patent applications.
Why should I choose to work with Scott Lefton?
Scott Lefton has a Master of Science degree in Engineering and has been
working as a design engineer for over 30 years in a variety of technical
fields. He is named as an inventor on patents for both electronic and
mechanical inventions, in addition to being a registered patent agent.
While most patent agents and attorneys have technical degrees, few additionally
have the professional experience to really understand the inventive process.
Some of the recent court rulings in patent litigation cases emphasize
how critical it is for patent applications to disclose and claim literally
all foreseeable embodiments and variations of the invention. By combining
the skills of a patent agent with the skills of an experienced engineer
and inventor, Scott Lefton can offer you a strategic advantage on the
research, drafting, filing and prosecution of your patent application.
More information on patents is available at www.uspto.gov.