Long Island Patent Attorney

Various Patent Options to Fit Your Needs and Budget

What type of patent do I need, you ask? If you have a great invention idea that may need patenting, a wise first step would be educating yourself a little about your options. Since everyone’s situation is different, it would be most helpful for you to stop surfing the web at some point after some initial research and simply call a patent attorney to talk about your situation.

If you’re located in or near Long Island, NY you can speak with a Long Island patent attorney anytime by just giving us a call. Not in NY? No problem. We’re registered with the USPTO to help inventors and businesses from all 50 states get patent protection and we serve clients around the world.

Nonprovisional (Regular) Patent Applications

If you intend to monetize your invention with the aid of a utility patent, a nonprovisional patent application must be filed, even if you already filed a provisioTypes of patentsnal application. As with a provisional, patent pending status is secured upon filing, but only a nonprovisional application can mature into an issued patent. Thus, unless you are guided by strict time or financial constraints, it often makes sense to avoid the expense and delay associated with a provisional application and go straight to the nonprovisional to minimize the time it takes to secure the full patent rights furnished by an issued patent.

Provisional Applications For Patent

A provisional application for patent gets protection in place for your invention more quickly and inexpensively than by filing a nonprovisional patent application. A provisional application establishes a filing date for your patent application to help you win the race against competitors or other people who had your same invention idea. A regular nonprovisional application filed within a year can take advantage of the same filing date as your earlier provisional application. This allows you to get a secure “patent pending” status quickly and affordably, and then use the following 12 months to further develop your invention, test the market to evaluate the customer demand for your invention, get price quotes from manufacturers, and seek investors.

Design Patents

A design patent protects the ornamental features of the design of your invention, as opposed to the functional aspects of a product or process.

What is a Patent?

Before even talking with a patent attorney you should be clear on what a patent is, and what it can and cannot do for you. What is a patent? The short answer is, it’s the grant of a property right by the United States Patent and Trademark Office to an inventor. This right is provided for in the Constitution. Is it the right to use your invention, or the right to sell your invention and make money on it? NO! And this is a very common misconception. The right granted to you by the USPTO is the right to exclude others. In other words, it’s the right to prevent other people or companies from making your invention, using it, selling it or even offering it for sale, or importing the invention into the U.S. There are several different types of patents, including utility patents and design patents, and several types of patent applications, such as nonprovisional and provisional applications.

What Does a Patent Do For Me?

So by virtue of getting a patent, are you allowed to have an engineer draft drawings of your invention so you can take those drawings to a rapid prototype company and have them make you a prototype? NO!

If your invention is very marketable, and a company offers to buy 2,000 units of your product for a total of $200,000, does your patent give you the right to close the deal? NO!

What if you invented a useful household product and you’re not interested in making a million dollars off it just yet. Surely in return for all the time and money you invested in getting a patent, your patent must at least give you, the inventor, the right to personally use your own invention in the privacy of your own home…NO, it doesn’t!

So at this point you’re probably asking yourself “What is a patent good for it doesn’t allow me to do anything anyway?” Well, in light of the above analysis, if your goal is simply to use your invention in your home to make your life easier, or simply to make and sell your product, then a patent isn’t even needed and the patent cost would be a total waste. But…if your goal is to MONETIZE your invention, then you need to be able to beat your competition, and a patent allows you to do just that. A patent essentially enables you to completely stop all of your competitors from making, selling, or using your invention, so that you can be the ONLY one to do so. If your invention is a process or a method, as opposed to a product, and this process can be used to generate money in some way or increase the productivity of a manufacturing process for example, then your patent enables you to stop everyone else from using your invented process so that they have to pay you to use it.

If Your Invention is an Improvement on an Existing Product….

Now, why did I make such a big deal about the fact that your patent doesn’t give you the right to actually make, sell, or use your invention? It’s because your patented invention may very well incorporate all or part of someone else’s patented invention. This is fine, and it’s still possible to get a patent on something like this, but it would mean that using your invention requires you to use someone else’s invention at the same time. Recall that their patent gives them the right to stop you from using their invention, which is a necessary part of your invention.

While we can’t get into the details of that scenario here, you should be aware of this issue in case you run into it so you can discuss it with your patent attorney and make sure you avoid patent infringement. But even if your invention does incorporate someone else’s patented invention, that certainly doesn’t mean your patent isn’t valuable or that you can’t make money with it. In fact, when handled properly, these situations may actually give you an even greater opportunity to monetize your invention.

How Long Does a Patent Last?

So now that we know what rights a patent gives you, how long does a patent last? Well unfortunately, patent rights do not last forever. The exact duration of a patent – the patent “term” as it’s called – can vary by several years from patent to patent. Here’s how to calculate how long a patent lasts:

The start of your patent term is very straightforward – your patent term starts as soon as your patent is granted. Remember, first you file your patent application, and then after the USPTO reviews your application and discusses it back and forth with your patent attorney several times in “office actions,” the USPTO may or may not actually issue you a patent – and this process typically takes anywhere from one to four years typically. At the end of all this, when (if) your patent is actually granted, this is the day that your patent term starts.

Provisional patent applicationWhen does a patent expire? Determining when your patent term ends is a little tricky because it’s not measured from the start of your patent term (when your patent is granted). A patent’s expiration is calculated from when your patent application is first filed. Counting from when your application is filed, your patent term automatically ends twenty years later.

For example, if your patent attorney files your application today, and your patent is granted two years from today, what is your patent term? Your patent term starts two years from today when your patent is granted, and it ends twenty years from today when you file your application. In this example, two years from now until twenty years from now gives you a total patent life of eighteen years.

Pay or Die!

Be aware that you are not automatically given the full patent term after your patent is granted. The patent term discussed above is the maximum duration of a patent. As if the patent cost wasn’t high enough already, in order to actually keep your patent alive for this full patent term you have to pay the USPTO additional fees along the way, called “maintenance fees.” These patent maintenance fees must be paid three different times during the life of the patent: at the three-year, seven-year, and eleven-year anniversaries of the grant of your patent, and each successive fee is higher than the previous one. If you don’t pay a maintenance fee, your patent will die prematurely. The USPTO or your patent attorney may send you reminders of upcoming maintenance fee deadlines, but you should always mark these on your own calendar ahead of time to be safe.

Two Hotels on Boardwalk…Don’t Mess!

When your patent finally expires, whether it’s due to failure to pay the maintenance fees or the twenty years from filing having passed, your invention becomes part of the public domain, meaning anyone can use it, make it, sell it, and import it. But until this time, you have a total monopoly on your invention and are the only one allowed by law to make, use, and sell it. Not only that, but this is very powerful for marketing purposes, because throughout the entire patent term, consumers are associating only your company and brand to that product. Hence, by the time your patent expires, your company will already be the industry standard and you’ll have 100% market share before competition is even allowed to begin. Before your competitors even can start competing with you, you already have a huge advantage in terms of your position in the market.