The number of utility patent applications made to the United States Patent Office has been on a steady increase since the 1990s. This means more and more inventors are taking steps to legally protect their inventions.
Do you have a passion for innovation and invention? Want to know more about the patent application process?
One way to break into this field is to be an inventor. Another way is to become a patent lawyer!
In this article, our focus is on the latter.
So, what is a patent lawyer and how can you become one? Keep reading to find out!
What Is a Patent Lawyer?
The patent application process is complex and filled with technical and legal paperwork. This means an inventor might have the brain smarts to create new products but lack the legal knowledge required to make a successful patent application.
This is where a patent lawyer comes in.
These professionals use their in-depth understanding of patent law to guide inventors through the patent application process. They use their technical expertise to examine products, determine the patent that the inventor needs to apply for, and prepare the necessary paperwork.
Patent lawyers also do a search to ensure an invention (or parts of it) hasn’t already been patented. Explore this page for more info on what a patent search involves.
Does this sound like something you’d enjoy doing? Here is how to become a patent lawyer.
1. Earn a Degree in a Technical or Scientific Field
Unlike other lawyers, patent lawyers typically have an academic background in a technical or scientific field. This is where they gain the knowledge and expertise needed to examine the technical aspects of an invention.
The first step to joining this career is to pursue a bachelor’s degree in a technical or scientific field of your choice. You could, for instance, pursue a degree in product design and development.
2. Go to Law School
After getting your technical or scientific degree, the next step is to pass the Law School Admission Test and join a law school of your choice. Here, you’ll pursue a concentration in intellectual property law.
3. Get Licensed to Practice as a Patent Lawyer
After successfully completing law school, you’re almost ready to practice as a patent lawyer. The only thing that stands in your way is a state law license. To get licensed, you must pass a state bar examination.
4. Find Employment or Start Your Own Law Firm
With your law license secured, the last step is to find employment as a patent lawyer. You can make job applications to established patent law firms in your state.
If you don’t fancy looking for employment, you can start your own patent law firm. However, bear in mind that this move requires you to have adequate startup capital. Also, it can take several months before your firm gets a steady inflow of clients.
Go on and Become a Patent Lawyer
Now that you know the answer to “what is a patent lawyer?” you’re in a better position to determine whether this is a profession you’d like to pursue. If yes, we’ve also fleshed out the path you’ll need to follow.
All the best and keep tabs on our site for more legal tips and insights.
Securing a patent is important for inventors as they need to bar other people from copying, selling, or using their inventory for a certain period of time. With patent law, investors feel secure and protected from fraudsters who might want to use their unique ideas for their own personal gain without giving the inventor any credit.
If you’re an inventor, you must understand that your patent may not be secure until it is filed, reviewed, approved. The U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is charged with patent approval.
The USPTO only issues a limited number of patents with only one patent per inventory lasting for a period of between 14 to 20 years. You can secure a patent in two ways; one is to get the patent yourself from the USPTO or get permission from the current patent holder.
Before you can successfully secure a patent, here are what needs to be considered.
Determine what is patentable
You cannot just come up with any kind of inventory and say that you want to secure a patent for it. For an inventory to qualify as a patent, it should be novel and non-obvious. A novel inventory in that which is not similar to any other inventory in either one or more parts.
It must not have been sold, used publicly, or already patented by another inventor in a period of one year of your application. A patent is non-obvious if a skilled person will consider it unique or surprising development.
You cannot patent anything that is discovered in nature even if it’s unique. All naturally occurring events, ideas, or products are not patentable even if you’re the person behind the discovery.
Other things that are not patentable include fundamental truths, calculation methods, mathematical formulas, and abstract principles. You can, however, patent the process for arriving at such formulas. Moreover, you cannot patent a suggestion or an idea. Any inventory that is illegal or has no legal purpose will not be granted a patent.
The Usefulness of the Inventory
Before you can be granted a patent for a certain inventory, you must be able to prove that your invention is useful. It must have a beneficial use and be usable in ways that can generate some profit.
For your inventory to qualify into a utility patent, it should fall into categories such as machine, process, the composition of matter, manufacture, or an improvement of any of these. There are also unique items that are made by humans and the process for making those items that are patentable.
Computer software and hardware, medical devices, drugs, formulas and processes, jewelry, designs, etc. fall in the category of patentable items. So if your inventory is patentable, that is, unique and non-obvious and is useful, you can then go ahead and apply for patent protection.
You must understand that a patent is different from the copyright and it does not arise automatically if you don’t apply for it. You should contact an attorney to help you make a preliminary patent search to determine if you can proceed with the application. This should happen within one year of publishing or disclosing your invention to the public.
The first way to secure a patent is by filing a provisional patent application. This is essential for a preliminary version of the patent application. At this stage, you’ll not get the patent yet but have certain rights for the patent which you’ll get full access to at a later date. At this period, you can claim ‘patent-pending’ and have a right to sue anybody for using the patent.
Final Patent Application
Getting a complete patent right entails two processes. This could be turning the provisional application into a final patent or filing for the final patent without passing through the preliminary patent application.
To avoid wasting time and going through different processes that you don’t understand well, you should contact an attorney to help you out. If your patent qualifies as a novel and useful inventory, the USPTO will issue you with the patent. The application process takes 18 months or more.
Another way to secure a patent is through a license agreement. This entails negotiating a license agreement with the patent holder to use an existing patent. You can either get an exclusion or nonexclusive right which permits you to use the patent. The licensing agreement gives you the same right as that of a person who secured the patent right from the USPTO.
Finally, you can secure a patent by purchasing the patent from the current holder. The patent owner has the right to sell the patent to anyone at any time without restrictions whatsoever. So, if you want to secure the rights to a patent that is already owned by someone else, you’ll have to purchase it. The parties involved can come up with a purchase agreement. The agreement has terms and conditions which you need to meet to become the new owner of the invention.
Contact a Patent Lawyer
Getting a patent right is a legal way to secure your inventory, which might be highly profitable hence greatly coveted by others. You should, however, take all the necessary precautions when it comes to patent because you can easily lose it.
A patent can sometimes be so complex as to raise complicated legal matters. When this happens, the only person you’ll have to rely on is a patent attorney. Paying a lawyer some fees to get a patent right is usually a wise decision since lawyers have all the legal expertise which is necessary to protect your rights.
A divorce can put a hold on many other important aspects in your life. There are constant thoughts of how to remedy the situation, or simply make it out without being completely devastated. Unfortunately, some things just are not meant to be and if divorce is imminent it could leave you to deal with it alone.
Here are ten steps to consider taking when a divorce is on the horizon.
There is a plethora of information on divorce proceedings available for people to access. You are not the first to end up in this situation and you will not be the last. There are many common factors that lead to divorce, as well as similar resulting developments. Others who have been there are often willing to share their experiences to help you get through it. Be careful to draw advice only from those whose tips are constructive and healthy.
Research can also save you a lot of confusion once the proceedings begin. There are specific rules associated with getting a divorce and it is important to understand them well, so you do not suffer financially under rulings.
2. Remain Civil
It does not matter how angry or upset the situation leading to the divorce has made you. Always remain calm and collected when dealing with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. This can be especially difficult if they have especially wronged you financially, or emotionally.
Since adultery is a leading cause of divorce, many proceedings are emotion-filled and that can get in the way of having smooth proceedings. When learning more about adultery in divorce, keep in mind there are legal rules associated with it that are best understood with a clear and collected head. Any arguments or vengeful acts will only progress the situation negatively. It can waste time, making the process longer than needed. It can even reflect badly on yourself, costing you down the line legally.
3. Take Inventory of Possessions
It can be hard to determine what really belongs to who when you have been with someone and shared things for so long, but this will have to be done. Some things obviously belong to one person or the other. One common tactic couples use is to put stickers on things they want so it’s easier to determine what even needs to be taken into account.
Larger possessions, like your home and cars, are a completely different story and will need to be handled according to specific rules. Some assume just because a vehicle or house is predominantly in their name that they will have complete rights to it. There are particular judgements that may separate ownership because of who the household income comes from.
4. Smart Budgeting
Many surprise expenses will pop up along the way, especially if you are caring for your home after your spouse has moved out and stopped paying bills. You may find new expenses will be needed to cover the missing work around the house. Preparing a budget and ensuring you have what is necessary to maintain your lifestyle will help you get a handle on how to proceed. Divorce will be costly, but you can minimize costs by knowing the process in-depth.
5. Prioritize Any Children
Dealing with your children can be one of the most challenging aspects during a divorce. This is something that will affect them as well, and it is important to sit down with them to tell exactly what is going on. You will also need to determine who will become the primary caregiver and how expenses will be handled. Depending on the situation with your ex-spouse, it may be necessary to dictate court-ordered child support.
6. Consult an Attorney
Information on your legal rights is vital to have at this time. The different regulations involved in a divorce can become attainable once contacting legal professionals. Attorneys can provide the facts of what the road ahead of you entails. You may be entitled to more than you think, or need to take extra precautions to not suffer loss. Legal representation can defend you from being taken advantage of by your ex-spouse.
7. Accumulate Financial Documents
Financial records are an important piece of information to ensure all bills and possessions are split up equally. You will have to agree on who is responsible for what. A difference in incomes can come into play when it comes time to decide how things will be split.
8. Manage Debt
This will one of the more challenging facets of a divorce, no one wants to take on debt. Certain bills you may have been handling together, such as school loans, will obviously belong to one party or the other. But if finances were shared, one party could end up owing the other for bills that were put in their name.
If your marriage has collective debt there are sometimes special marital debt circumstances that can be arranged to split the debt into two.
9. Get Support
A divorce can be a lonely time without the person you have been with for so long. This will be a lot of extra stress to deal with at first, and no one should have to go through it alone. It is okay to ask for help from friends and family if needed, and there are experts lined up to help those in this troubling time as well.
10. Take Responsibility for Yourself
It can be easy to believe you have no fault in the problems in your marriage. This is often not the case and understanding what has gone wrong can help you prepare for your new chapter in life. If you have made decisions that ended up adding to the conflict, take responsibility and recognize your hand in things. It’s hard to let things go, but remember why you are doing this- to get away from the negativity, so do not carry it with you.
Positive Actions, Smooth Divorce
Divorce marks the end of your marriage, but it will not mark the end of your life. Using smart financing decisions and reaching out for help can guide produce successful divorce proceedings. Keep any children at the top of your priorities and do not be deterred by an empty house or snide remarks. A divorce is usually not a happy time for those involved but can be manageable if prepared by thorough research.
Are you an engineer or product designer looking to protect your new idea or project? Are you asking yourself “how much does a patent cost?” and is that a worthwhile investment?
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about patents, including how they work, how much they cost, and when you should get one.
What is a Patent?
A patent is essentially a license that gives you the property rights to a product or creation you’ve invented. With a patent, the patent owner has the power to give permission to or license their patent to other parties, which will allow them to use the invention. It also prevents other people from using, distributing, or selling the invention without the patent owner’s consent.
There are two types of patents you should know of:
The utility patent is the most common type of patent. It’s used to grant license ownership for things like new machines, chemicals, and processes. This patent provides protection for the way a product or process works.
A design patent is a patent that protects the actual appearance or design of a manufactured product. This patent doesn’t protect the structure or features of a product, but rather how it specifically looks.
How to Determine if Something Can Be Patented
To qualify for a patent, your invention has to be different enough from other similar inventions. It must also be “non-obvious”, which means that someone within that field of invention must consider it an unexpected invention. Lastly, it must not have been used, sold, or patented by a different invention with a year of the date you filed your patent application.
Here is a list of categories you can generally patent:
- Computer software or hardware
- Chemical processes or formulas
- Furniture design
- Medical devices
- Medical devices
Here is a list of things that cannot be patented:
- Laws of nature
- Physical phenomena
- Abstract ideas
- Non-useful or offensive inventions
- Works of literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic nature (these can be copyrighted)
If your invention falls under one of these categories, you cannot patent it.
How the Patent Process Works
To get a patent, the invention must apply for one within one year of publicly announcing their invention. Before you apply for the patent, the inventor should do a preliminary patent search to determine if their invention has already been patented, or if trying to patent it is feasible. Once they do that, they can submit their application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which will review the patent.
Click here to learn more about how the patent application filing process works.
How Much Does a Patent Cost?
The cost of a patent can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as the type of technology involved in the invention, attorney fees, and where the invention is being patented.
The first associated fee is the patent application, which can cost you as little as $65. It’s important to know, however, that this fee differs based on whether it’s a provisional patent or a non-provisional patent.
How expensive a patent costs usually depends on the legal fees and the complexity of the invention. Highly complex inventions like hardware or software will cost upwards of $16,000 whereas a relatively simple invention like a board game will cost you closer to $7000. Design patents, in which the appearance of the invention is patented, are usually a lot more inexpensive.
Factors that Affect How Much a Patent Costs
The type of patent and complexity of the invention aren’t the only costs involved in the patent process. If you’re an individual filing a patent application, you’ll pay less than a large business would. And if your invention involves a lot of technology, the price will be inherently higher.
It’s also important to know that products that are like other ones with existing patents, generally cost more. And if you’re planning on patenting your invention in several countries, you’ll have to account for those extra costs.
Should You Get a Patent?
Not sure if your invention needs a patent, or if it’s worth the application process? Here are some questions you should ask yourself before applying.
Is Your Invention Worth Protecting?
Does your invention have the potential to change the market and make you a lot of money? Or is it something with limited potential that will only speak to a niche market? If your product invention has little earning potential, you should consider if the return you’re getting will outweigh the associated application and legal fees.
If you’re interested in your invention but skeptical about getting a patent, talk to a patent lawyer.
They’ll tell you if it’s worth proceeding with the process. And if you’re not sure, consider a provisional patent application, which puts your application on record and gives you a year to think about whether you’d like to proceed with the patent process.
Can You Afford the Patent Process?
Patents can be quite costly and may take years to actually get. So, before you file an application think about how committed you are to your invention, and if you have the time, patience (and money) to stick with the process.
Do the Benefits Outweigh the Costs?
Just because your idea is great doesn’t necessarily mean you should get a patent for it. Your invention should have significant marketing value and have a high chance of being a saleable or license-able asset. If it isn’t, the patent is most likely not worth the cost.
Are You Willing to Defend Your Patent?
There will always be a person or company looking to steal your ideas or release some copycat version of your invention. Are you willing to go to court against these people and defend your invention? If not, you should consider not getting a patent.
Final Thoughts on Patents
Patents are a great way to protect your invention and prevent people from profiting from your ideas and hard work. But there’s a lot that goes into them. By assessing things like the feasibility of your patent, and the associated costs of having one, you can decide if applying for patent protection is right for you.
Are you thinking about patenting an invention? Not sure where to start? Contact us to learn more about how we can assist you with this process!