IP Essentials: Q&A Series

Q Does owning a patent give me the right to use/practice the invention? A A patent only gives you the right to exclude others from making, using, offering, and selling your invention protected by that patent within the United States, or importing the invention into the United States. Even owners of a patent may not have the right to actually “practice” their invention. Q Should I file a patent, or can I maintain my invention as a trade secret? A Maintaining your invention as a trade secret is a cost-effective alternative to patenting when the information is not easily reverse-engineered. However, you don’t have any rights to exclude anyone from practicing your invention if you maintain it as a trade secret. Consider patenting an invention if it can provide a real business advantage, such as limiting or excluding competitors from the market, or generating revenue through licensing . Q What makes an invention patentable? A To be patentable, an invention must be novel, useful and non- obvious. Novelty : The invention covered by the patent application must be substantially different from anything else that is known to the public. Public knowledge includes (1) anything that has been previously patented, (2) anything that has been written about in a publication, and/or (3) anything that has been sold in public.


A patent is an exclusive right granted for an inven- tion. In other words, a patent is an exclusive right to a product or a process that generally provides a new way of doing something or offers a new technical solution to a problem. However, you can’t patent laws of nature, physical phenomena, or abstract ideas.



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