General Information

Information for Inventors, Designers, Programmers, Authors & Artists

What is a Patent? A patent is a grant by a government acting through its Patent Office. The subject matter of a patent is an invention, and the person entitled to receive the patent grant is the inventor or the inventors heirs and assigns. A United States patent gives the patent owner The right to exclude others from making, using or selling the invention throughout the United States. In exchange, the inventor is required to disclose the invention in a patent application filed with the Patent Office. The invention must be disclosed in sufficient detail to enable a person of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention. Each patent application is a unique and very technical legal document.

What can be Patented? There are three types of U.S. patents, each of which covers different patentable subject matter. First a utility patent is granted for a new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement. The duration of a utility patent is 20 years from its filing date. Second, a design patent is granted for a new, original, and ornamental design of an article of manufacture. The duration of a design patent is 14 years from its issue date. Third, a plant patent is granted for a distinct and new variety of plant which has been asexually reproduced. The duration of a plant patent is 17 years from its issue date.

What is the difference between a Patent, Copyright, and Trademark? People often confuse patents, copyrights and trademarks. In contrast to a patent, a copyright protects a work of authorship or the expression of ideas and thoughts in words, sketches, pictures, film, music, sculpture, computer programs, etc. A trademark on the other hand, protects a word, symbol, or other device which is used in connection with good and/or services.

Conditions for Obtaining a Patent. You may be entitled to a U.S. patent unless your invention was: 1) patented or described in a printed publication in public use or on sale before your patent application is filed; or 2) obvious to one skilled in the art at the time you invented it. There is no requirement to build or make a prototype or model.

Recommended Steps. As a first step, we normally recommend that you authorize us to conduct a patentability search to determine the possible novelty and patentability of your invention. We provide you with our search report, copies of the most relevant patents uncovered by our search, our detailed analysis, and our opinion as to the possible novelty and patentability of your invention

After you have considered our search report and opinion, you may wish to take what is typically the next step toward obtaining a patent - authorizing us to prepare and file a provisional patent application or regular patent application with the Patent Office. After such an application has been filed, the term Patent Pending or Patent Applied For can legally be used on any literature, advertisement, packaging, or embodiment of your invention. You may then wish to try to license, sell, or market your invention and patent rights.

We enclose an Invention Disclosure form for you to provide us with a basic description of your invention. Please complete the form and send it back to us by email (or fax or mail) WITHOUT ANY MONEYat your earliest convenience. Upon receiving the completed form, we will witness it and return a witnessed copy for your records together with our recommendation letter. We will retain the original of your Invention Disclosure form in our files as evidence of your conception of the invention, unless you instruct us otherwise.

Many first-time inventors are reluctant about sharing their ideas with others. While it is true that you should not disclose your invention to others indiscriminately, you may feel confident in trusting registered patent attorneys such as our firm to maintain your information in strictest confidence. If you have any doubts, we encourage you to contact the U.S. or Canadian Patent Office to verify the qualifications and registration of the patent attorneys of our firm. For your further protection we enclose a pre-signed Confidential Disclosure Agreement for you to complete and retain.

We are a full-service intellectual property law firm offering: national and international patents, trademarks and copyrights; technology evaluations; promotion, marketing, and licensing services; and infringement avoidance advice.

We look forward to receiving your completed Invention Disclosure form. In the meantime, feel free to call if you have any questions.