IP Essentials: Q&A Series

Q What does it mean if an invention has “absolute novelty”? A Most countries require “absolute novelty” of an invention before filing a patent application. Patent rights in these jurisdictions may be jeopardized if there is any disclosure or sale of the invention prior to filing a patent application. Q How can I market-test my product without triggering the “on-sale” bar? A Certain prior public uses may not trigger the one-year “on- sale” bar if it qualifies as an allowable experimental use. If, for example, a public use is performed solely for the purpose of perfecting the invention and remains confidential and under the control of the inventor. Q How long does a patent last? A As a general rule, utility patents filed now, have a life of twenty years from the date of filing of the earliest non- provisional application to which it claims priority. You may also get some additional time as patent term extension if the grant of the patent is delayed by the patent office’s examination process. Design patents filed now, generally have a term of fifteen years from issuance.

Q Does my U.S. patent protect me in foreign countries? A Your U.S. patent does not protect you in any foreign countries. In order to be protected in foreign countries you will have to file a separate patent application in each of the countries that you want patent protection in. Q If two people invent the same thing, who is awarded the patent and is keeping a record of my invention important? A In the United States, patents are awarded to the first inventor to file a patent application. Nevertheless, it is important to maintain accurate records of invention disclosures, such as lab notebooks or an equivalent record keeping, which may be important evidence for future patent disputes. Q How can I tell if my invention is patentable or is already patented? A You can perform a preliminary patent search online. The best way to determine if your invention is patent eligible or is already patented would be to consult a patent attorney.

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IP ESSENTIALS: PATENTS

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