Fort Lauderdale Patent Attorney
Patent law is derived from the U.S. Constitution and is regulated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
What is a patent?
A patent confers the right to exclude others from making, using or selling an invention for a set period of time. Basically, a patent protects others from usurping your invention. Patent rights are territorial, which means they can only be enforced in the country that issued the patent. Thus, a patent issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office only prevents people from making, using or selling the patented invention in the United States (this includes imports into the U.S.). Likewise, a patent issued by the U.S. will not be enforced in other countries. The only way to protect an invention in a particular country is to apply for a patent in that country.
What can be patented?
One type of patent is a utility patent, which is available for new, non-obvious and useful inventions related to:
- A process;
- A machine;
- An article of manufacture (i.e., a simple object made by human or machine);
- A composition of matter (i.e., a chemical compound); or
- An improvement upon a process, machine, article of manufacture or composition of matter.
There are two other types of patents: plant and design. A design patent may protect the ornamental design of an article of manufacture, while a plant patent may protect asexually produced plant varieties.
In addition to the requirements listed above, the invention must also be adequately described and enabled such that a person with ordinary skill could make or use it. Furthermore, the inventor must claim the invention in clear and definite terms. Only the inventor may apply for patent protection of his or her invention.
What cannot be patented?
Only the categories listed above may be patented. Here are several examples of things that do not fall under these categories:
- Abstract ideas;
- Laws of nature;
- Literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works (which might be eligible for copyright protection instead); and
- Physical phenomena.
The invention is not eligible for patent protection if it offends public morality.
How long does a patent last?
The time period for utility and plant patents typically begins on the day the patent is granted and ends 20 years from the date the inventor first applied. Note that the term of a utility patent is also contingent on the payment of maintenance fees. Design patents last 14 years from the date the patent is granted. (Plant and design patents do not carry maintenance fees.)
How do I get a patent for my invention?
In order to get a patent in the United States, you must file an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The process can take several years, but it can be expedited in certain cases. Before going through the time and expense of filing an application you should make sure that the invention meets the legal requirements, including novelty and usefulness. I am a registered patent attorney with experience helping clients acquire patents around the world. I can prepare and prosecute your patent application as well as enforce your patent rights. Contact me today at (954) 812-0660.