Patents form a solid foundation for any intellectual property portfolio. A patent provides its owner(s) with the right to stop others from making, using, selling and importing the products or services covered by the patent for a set term within a particular jurisdiction (i.e., country). There is no such thing as a “worldwide patent.” Patent protection must be applied for and secured in each desired country. While RKM provides a full range of services related to United States patents, described below, RKM has associate counsel throughout the world that can assist in securing and enforcing your patent rights in selected countries. In this way, RKM serves as your one-stop-shop for global patent protection.
There are three types of patents available in the United States: utility, design, and plant. A utility patent can protect an apparatus, machine, process, product, or composition of matter. A design patent protects ornamental product design. Plant patents protect certain asexually reproduced varieties of plant.
In order to be entitled to patent protection, the invention must be new (novel), useful, and not obvious in view of what others have done before. A patent application must include a detailed description of the invention, and must enable a person of skill in the relevant art to make and use the invention. A patent application must include at least one patent claim, a verbal description of the metes and bounds of aspects of the invention that the application is seeking protection for.
Patent applications are examined by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to ensure they meet these requirements. The examination includes a review of prior technology (prior art) to determine the proper scope of the patent claims. The patent examination process can take as little as several months to as long as several years depending on the type of technology and the scope of patent protection desired.
Once a patent is issued, the term depends of the type of patent. Utility and plant patents generally have a term of 20 years from the effective filing date of the patent application. A design patent has a term of 14 years from the date of patent issue. However, it is important to consult with an expert when calculating the term of a patent because the term can be affected by many different factors.
Contact RKM to discuss your patent options.