IP Essentials: Q&A Series


Q What is a provisional patent application? A A provisional patent application allows you

Usefulness : The invention covered by the patent application must have some practical utility such as providing some identifiable benefit or provide a solution to a problem. Non-obviousness : The invention protected by the patent must be sufficiently different from existing solutions such that a person having ordinary skills in the area related to subject of the patented invention would not find the invention as an obvious derivative of the existing art. Q Are there different types of patents? A Most patents are “utility” patents, protecting the functional aspects of inventions such as machines, manufactured articles, compositions of matter, and processes. You can also patent ornamental designs of something that has a practical utility. Finally, you can also patent certain new and distinct varieties of plants that can be asexually reproduced. Q What are “patent claims”? A The patent claims are particular to utility patents and they define the scope of the invention. The disclosure, including the written description and the figures do not define the patent right—the claims do! Q I contributed to a portion of an invention, should I be included on the patent application as an inventor? A You are an inventor if you contributed to the “conception” of the invention. That contribution requires more than routine engineering skill or supervision. An inventor needs to make a contribution to at least one claim of the patent.

I’ve been selling my product for more than a year, is it too late to file for a patent? In the United States, a patent application must be filed within the one-year grace period after your invention was first disclosed to the public, pub- licly used, sold, or offered for sale in the United States. The rest of the world does not of- fer a grace period.

to establish an early effective filing date

(priority) for a later filed application. Provisional patent applications cannot “mature” into a patent. Provisional applications are not publicly available and are automatically abandoned one year after filing. To preserve your rights to the provisional application filing date, you must file a non-provisional application within one year and claim priority to the provisional application. It is important to make sure that the disclosure of a provisional application can support the claims of any later- filed non-provisional applications.





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