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Why Are Patents Important?

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Purpose of Patents

A patent is important because it can help safeguard your invention.  It can protect any product, design or process that meets certain specifications according to its originality, practicality, suitability, and utility.  In most cases, a patent can protect an invention for up to 20 years. This time period starts soon as you file your patent.

Filing For a Patent

The first thing a person must do is file a formal application with the United States’ Patent and Trademark Office.  After you publish a description of your invention, publicly disclose the product, sell it, or make your item available for commercial use, the application process needs to be completed.

Fortunately, this one year rule will allow the creator to test his or her product before he or she decides to invest in a patent filing.  Be very careful.  If you have a foreign product, patent protection is not available to an invention that has a public disclosure before a person files a formal application. Therefore, you need to file an application with the United States before disclosing your invention publicly. This method will help you procure a foreign patent with other countries outside of the United States.

Furthermore, a person must file a foreign patent under one of the two international treaties: the Patent Cooperation Treaty and the European Patent Convention.  By filing under one of these arrangements, this can help safeguard your rights and reduce some of the upfront filing fees. For each country you receive a patent in, you will have to pay filing fees.  Foreign patents will not be available in the United States’ Patent and Trademark Office for at least 18 months and you may not know what patents your rivals may be filing during this process.

In the United States, it takes anywhere from 18 to 24 months to receive a patent. Therefore, this process can be very expensive; it all depends upon how well you write your product’s description.  A person should plan on spending between $10,000 to $25,000 dollars for the procurement of a patent. Filing fees and maintenance fees are additional costs that you may need to consider.

If you do not have the money to spend on a license upfront, you can use the provisional patent process. This low-cost approach is the least expensive way to help protect your invention. This method will allow you to file a description of your product with the United States’ Patent and Trademark Office. Then you will be able to obtain an early file date, so you can file for the actual patent within 12 months.  Remember that the provisional process does not meet all the standards and protocols of the original application.

There has been some current and emerging issues surrounding the patent system. The number of patent applications has soared over the years; this has helped support the development of technological inventions and advancements in computerized instruments. The patent process faces two issues including internal operations and external matters concerning its role in public policy.  These challenges will cause social and financial impacts to the overall process. In the past, people had a minimal awareness of the patent system, but these days individuals are very knowledgeable about it.  Many people view the patent process as a something that is negative because it could prevent the federal government from handling certain public policy issues in regards to granting patent protection to new technologies.  Furthermore, the government may also confer invalid patents, which can restrict competition and public domains. These practices are considered unjust and will continue to generate more challenges and debates in the future.

Widerman Malek Patent Attorneys

If you have further questions about licensing any type of patent, the purpose of a patent, or how to get a patent, you are welcome to contact us today to speak with our patent attorneys.

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