The innovators of the world need support and encouragement, and making sure that they are compensated for what they’ve created is the best way to give them the encouragement they need. Thankfully, the United States and most other countries around the world recognize the laws pertaining to intellectual property, which includes trademark, copyright and patent laws. Patents, especially, are useful for inventors who have created a mechanism, process, or other new item.
If you have questions about patents, keep reading to find out everything you should know about protecting your intellectual property:
What is a patent?
There are several different types of patents, all of which are made to protect different inventions. A utility patent is the most common of the three. These are made to protect any new or useful inventions. They need to have some kind of non-obvious use and need to actually have a use; this prevents people from trying to patent novelty items (which are already patented) and perpetual motion machines. Design patents apply to new ornamental designs. A good example of this would be an update to a car’s design from one year to the next. Finally, there are also plant patents, which are used for any asexually reproduced plants. These are crucial to the horticulture industry, as more scientists try to develop foods that are resistant to
What is the length of patent protection?
Patents, which are granted through the United States Patent and Trademark Office, are given for a certain amount of time, after which they need to be renewed. Inventors are also required to pay a maintenance fee to keep that patent on file with the USPTO. Patents generally run for 14 years, with maintenance fees paid at the 3.5, 7.5, and 11.5 year marks; plant patents, however, are good for 20 years.
Do I need a patent licensing agreement?
If someone wants to use or sell your work, they will need to license it from you. An intellectual property lawyer can draft a patent licensing agreement, which will ensure that you are paid for your work. The first step, however, is getting you work patented — a process that can take up to a couple of years to complete.
What happens if my intellectual property is stolen?
If your work was used without the other party obtaining a patent licensing agreement, then you would likely need to talk to an attorney. This is considered intellectual property theft, which occurs more often than you might think. In recent years, the United States International Trade Commission has investigated a steadily increasing number of claims of intellectual property infringement, with an increase of 80.6% in 2010 and 23.2% in 2011. If the other party is found guilty, they will likely have to pay a fine. However, getting your work patented first is the best way to protect against infringement.
Have more questions about patents or other forms of intellectual property? Make sure to speak with an attorney. You can leave a comment with general questions in the space below.