Patent laws have been in place within the United States for over 200 years. In 1790, the first law was enacted for this purpose. By 2016, the United States Patent and Trademark Office had issued 303,051 patents. It may not be surprising to learn that the most international patent applications that were submitted during 2016 were for digital communication and computer technology.
You are most-likely aware that there are different types of patents. The United States Patent and Trademark Office has defined these three different patent categories:
More utility patents are issued within the United States than any other type of patents. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, approximately 90% of the patent documents they have issued are for utility patents.
If you have invented something in the category of digital communication and computer technology, for example, you will need to meet various criteria in order to have it patented. For your invention to receive a patent, it must meet these three basic criteria:
It’s important to note that patents do have an expiration date. If a utility or plant patent was issued after June 8, 1995, for instance, it would expire 20 years from the date of the original application and maintenance fee payment. Design patents, however, will expire 14 years after the date they were originally issued.
When you have dedicated your time, energy, creativity, and other resources to developing intellectual property, it’s important to protect it from being infringed upon. In addition to protecting your intellectual property by applying for a patent, there are three other methods to accomplish this goal:
If you are in the process of working on an invention or another type of intellectual property, it’s important to learn more about the patent process along with other methods to protect your work. When you contact an intellectual property practice to consult with an attorney, you will have the opportunity to discuss your invention or project in detail. While the United States Patent and Trademark Office website does contain a considerable amount of helpful material to begin the patent process, a patent attorney can provide you with further assistance in this regard.