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What does IP mean?

"IP" stands for Intellectual Property, referring to intangible property such as ideas, brands, or forms of expression. "IP" may also refer to internet protocol, the system that allows computers to talk to each other over the internet. Ip is also the first name of the famed martial artist "Ip Man."

What is the definition of a patent?

A patent is defined as a legal instrument that grants its owner a limited monopoly over the invention claimed in said patent. Put another way, a patent is a quid pro quo where the inventor teaches the public how to make and use their invention in exchange for a government-sanctioned limited monopoly. Note that it is not a pure monopoly; the rights conferred by a patent are the exclusive right to make, use, sell, offer to sell, or import and goods described by the patent in the U.S. or U.S. territories. Patent rights are national so a U.S. patent (granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office) would only protect the inventor in areas where U.S. law controls.

What is a provisional patent?

A provisional patent is a type of patent application that has very few formal requirements. The provisional patent provides applicants with a lost-cost way to file an initial patent application. A provisional patent must be "converted" into a non-provisional patent within 12 months of filing the provisional application or it will expire.

What is a non-provisional patent?

A non-provisional application is a "regular" patent application. That is, when the vast majority of people refer to a "patent" they are referring to a non-provisional utility application.

What is a plant patent?

Plant patents allow their owner to have protection over any new and distinct variety of plant that has been asexually reproduced. Note that tuber-propagated plants are not eligible for this type of protection.

What is a design patent?

A design patent gives its owner protection over the look and feel or an ornamental design. This can protect things from furniture to User Interfaces.

What rights does a patent provide?

A patent provides the owner of a patent (typically, the inventor) an exclusive right to make, use, sell, offer to sell, or import the invention claimed in the patent. Patent rights are national so a U.S. patent (granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office) would only protect the inventor areas covered by federal US law.

What kinds of inventions can be protected?

"Anything under the sun that is made by man" aside from the following three exceptions: (1) abstract ideas; (2) mathematical formulae; and (3) naturally occurring phenomenon. Abstract ideas include ways of organizing and categorizing data. Mathematical formulae refer to attempts to patent a formula in its entirety, as opposed to a specific application of said formula. Naturally occurring phenomenon refer to attempts to patent properties inherent in a naturally occurring phenomenon.

How can I find out if my invention is already patented?

The best way is to have an attorney or patent search firm perform what is called a "patent clearance search." This is not the same as a freedom-to-operate opinion and if the person you are hiring cannot explain the difference to you, you should consider looking elsewhere to have the search done.

How long does it take to get a patent?

This can vary greatly, depending on a number of factors. The process can last anywhere from 6 months to 7 years (both of which are extreme examples) but the process typically lasts between 1-3 years. Again, this depends on a variety of factors so it would be wise to consult a patent attorney to give you a more definite estimate as to how long your particular journey through the patent office may take.

How Long Does a Patent Last?

How long these rights will last for depends on the type of patent filed. For a plant and utility patent, this protection lasts for a period of 20 years from the date the patent application was filed. For design patents, this protections lasts for 15 years from the date of the design patent was granted.

Are patents renewable or can they expire and run out?

Patents are not renewable, but maintenance fees must be paid for the patent to last it’s full term. Note that design patents do not have any corresponding maintenance fees. Utility patents and plant patents, in order to qualify for the full 20-year term, must have maintenance payments made at 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 years after the date of grant of the patent.

Is a patent valid in every country?

No, patent rights are limited to the nation that issued the patent. For example, a U.S. patent is issued by the U.S. Patent Office, and only offers protection in the United States and its associated territories. There does exist a process for an "international" patent application, but that is to streamline the process of filing patents over the same invention in multiple countries. At the end of the day an applicant will have to file for a separate patent in each of the countries that they want protection in.

Can you get an international patent?

No. The closest thing to a true international patent is called a "PCT Application" which is a glorified placeholder, which allows an applicant to streamline the international filing process in most countries. However, at the end of the day an applicant will have to file for a separate patent in each of the countries that they want protection in.

How are patent rights enforced?

While there are many ways to enforce your patent rights, in the US, the most common way is to file a patent infringement lawsuit in federal District Court.

Can Patents be sold?

Patents can be both sold and licensed. When a patent is sold, a document called an "assignment" is filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to record the transfer of ownership. A "license" is defined as the transfer of anything less than the full right, title, and interest of the patent.

How Do I License My Patent to a 3rd Party?

It depends on who you are attempting to license it to. Generally speaking, you should reach out to a representative of whomever you are attempting to license your patent to in order to get the ball rolling. If they are interested, they will set a meeting and you can begin to negotiate the terms of your license. While it is possible to do this yourself, I recommend hiring an attorney who specializes in intellectual property licensing to help ensure you get a fair deal.

Can I Discuss Details of My Invention with a Potential Investor Before Filing a Patent Application?

Technically yes, but as soon as you publicly disclose your invention, a 12-month clock to file a patent application begins. This can be challenging as most investors (or anyone who looks at 25+ pitch decks a day) will refuse to sign an NDA. There are a number of ways to safeguard yourself, but one popular option is filing a provisional patent application before your meeting and filing a non-provisional later down the road.

Can I Get a Patent On My App?

It depends. Some software is deemed to be patent-eligible, while other software is deemed to be patent-ineligible. As of January 2018, the exact requirements are still being sorted out by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. That said, copyright can protect various elements of ones software, and is an attractive option for many developers.

Can I Get a Patent On My Software Code?

It depends. Some software is deemed to be patent-eligible, while other software is deemed to be patent-ineligible. As of January 2018, this is a developing area of caselaw, meaning that the exact requirements are being sorted out by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. That said, copyright can protect various elements of one's software, and is an attractive option for many developers.

Can I Get a Patent On a Recipe or Process?

The recipe itself is probably better protected as a trade secret, but if the process of making the recipe is new, novel, and non-obvious, patent protection is available.

Are Patents Public Record?

All granted patents are public record. Patent applications are published 18 months from the earliest filing date and made available to the public, provided a non-publication request was not filed for the application.

What is the definition of a trademark?

A trademark is a legal instrument that allows its owner to have the exclusive right to use a logo, design, slogan, or brand in connection with goods and/or services being offered bearing that mark.

What rights does a trademark give you?

A trademark gives the owner exclusive rights to use the mark in connection with the sale of goods and/or services. Specifically, the owner may prevent others from making, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing goods and/or services that bear the registered mark or a mark confusingly similar the to registered mark.

How long does trademark protection last?

A trademark can last forever if properly maintained. To maintain a trademark registration, one must file additional paperwork between 5 and 6 years from the date of registration. From there, more paperwork is due every 10 years after receiving the registration. Provided this paperwork is filed, a trademark can last in perpetuity.

Can I trademark a Hashtag?

Yes, but the hashtag part of the mark (#) is given no weight in assessing the merits of one's application. That is, whatever the remainder of the hashtag must be available in order for you to obtain trademark protection.

What is the definition of a copyright?

A copyright is a legal instrument that protects creative expression. Things such as novels, collections of photography, songs, albums, clothing designs, and software code are among the list of things that are eligible for copyright protection.

What rights does a copyright provide?

As a copyright owner, you have the right to display and perform your work publicly, reproduce your work for sale, recreate your work to fit different forms (like a novel into a motion picture), and disseminate copies. It also grants you the right to sue infringers who are copying or using your work without a license.

How long does copyright protection last?

Today, copyrights last the length of the author’s life plus an additional 70 years. Over the years the copyright term has changed, but this is the standard for works created today.

Why do I need IP protection? What are the benefits?

Protecting your IP through the proper legal channels of trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets, can grant the owner the ability to prevent others from copying their work, changing their work, or using their work in unintended ways. We take certain security measures to protect our private information on a daily basis, and our ideas and inventions are no exception. Just as online banking provides security authentications to prevent others from stealing your identity and sensitive information, IP gives you a cause of action against others who would steal your ideas, inventions, and creative works. Additionally, any company, small business, start up, inventor, or entrepreneur who protects their IP makes themselves more enticing to potential investors and venture capitalist.

What is the difference between a Patent, Trademark, and Copyright?

They all protect different things and grant the owner a different set of enforceable rights: A patent protects an invention, a trademark protects a mark in connection with sale of goods and/or services, and a copyright protects creative expression. It is possible to have more than one of these for a given product or brand, but exactly how they would overlap is determined on a case-by-case basis.

What does "Patent Pending" mean?

This means that one or more patent applications have been filed that cover some aspect of the product marked "patent pending." This term is often misunderstood by consumers who assume that the product bearing the "patent pending" notice means the patent has been granted. The real benefit of this notice is to put would-be infringers on notice that while there is no issued patent which covers that product today, there is the potential for such a patent to be granted, and they should tread lightly. Further, if someone can be deemed a "willful infringer" the patent owner is entitled to three times the damages that would ordinarily be warranted. One way someone can be deemed a "willful infringer" is by knowingly knocking-off a product which is covered by patent pending technology.

What does the symbol TM mean?

This means a party is actively pursuing rights to a mark and is putting the public on notice of that fact.

What does the symbol (C) mean?

This means a given work has received a federal copyright registration and is putting the public on notice of that fact.

What does the (R) symbol mean?

This means a trademark is officially registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and is shown on goods to put the public on notice of this registration.

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