Patent Law


What is Patent Law?

Patent law is a set of rules and regulations that govern the protection of inventions. It gives inventors the exclusive rights to their creations for a certain period of time, usually 20 years from the date of filing the patent application. This means that no one else can make, use, sell, or import the patented invention without the inventor's permission.

To get a patent, an inventor must file a patent application with the appropriate government agency. The application should describe the invention in detail and explain how it works. It also needs to show that the invention is new, useful, and non-obvious compared to existing inventions.

Once a patent is granted, the inventor has the right to prevent others from using or copying their invention. If someone infringes on a patent, the inventor can take legal action to stop them and seek compensation for any damages caused.

Patents encourage innovation by giving inventors an incentive to develop new and useful inventions. They provide a period of exclusivity, during which inventors can profit from their inventions and recover their investment in research and development.

However, it's important to note that not all inventions can be patented. Laws vary between countries, but generally, abstract ideas, laws of nature, and naturally occurring phenomena cannot be patented. Additionally, some inventions may be excluded from patent protection if they are immoral, dangerous, or violate public policy.

Why Would you Need a Patent?

A patent in Central Texas grants you exclusive control over your invention, preventing others from using or reproducing it without your permission. It is a valuable asset that safeguards your rights to make, use, and sell/license your invention. Patents cover various types of inventions, including products, software, methods, processes, and more. Having a patent can act as a deterrent to competitors and discourage them from entering your market. It's important to note that from the moment you file a patent application, your invention is considered "patent pending," even if you don't ultimately receive a final patent grant.

small business owner

Our team of patent attorneys understands the significant competitive advantage that patents offer to businesses. We place great importance on patent prosecution, maintenance, and enforcement.


Services for Drafting and Prosecuting Patents

Our patent prosecution attorneys in Central Texas recognize the crucial role your patents or patent portfolios play in establishing your position as a marketplace leader. We provide a comprehensive range of intellectual property services with a focus on electrical, mechanical, optical, and computer hardware and software arts. Our team regularly assists clients in strategically procuring and managing their intellectual property assets, both domestically and internationally. Our practice includes the preparation and prosecution of patents in various fields, such as computer software and hardware, internet and e-commerce, business methods, communications, electrical and electro-mechanical engineering, and other mechanical disciplines. For an overview of the patenting process, please refer to the Patent Process Life Cycle, and you can also find our Sample Patent Invention Disclosure Form.

Understanding the Different Types of Patents

The United States Congress defines the types of inventions that patents can protect. There are three main types of patents:

  1. Utility Patent: A utility patent is a technical document that teaches the public how to use a new machine, process, or system. It can cover functional, utilitarian devices or formulas, business methods or novel business concepts, and software directed at innovative computer tasks or functions. The essential components of a utility patent application include the background, specification, claims, and drawings used to describe the new machine, method, or system in detail. For more information on the utility patenting process, please refer to our Overview of the Patenting Process.
  2. Design Patent: A design patent protects the ornamental design of a useful item. Unlike utility patents, design patents only include one claim: "I claim: the ornamental design as shown." The protectable subject matter of a design patent is solely based on its ornamental design, without covering its functionality. A design patent safeguards the visual appearance of the patented item.
  3. Plant Patent: Plant patents protect novel kinds of plants produced through nonsexual means, such as cuttings.

Design patents are typically not published, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) tends to provide relatively quick responses to design patent applications due to their limited scope of specific ornamental drawings. However, utility patents can be more complex, given the variety of written claims involved, and it may take many years for the USPTO to provide a formal office action. In addition to our patent prosecution practice described above, our patent lawyers regularly advise and represent clients on various post-issuance methods, including post-grant reviews, inter partes reexaminations, intellectual due diligence reviews, and international patent filings.

Steps for Filing a Patent

To successfully navigate the patent process, you must follow these steps:

  1. Obtain a Patentability Opinion: Work with a patent attorney to conduct a search and understand the prior art related to your invention. Prior art refers to any existing evidence that your design is already known.
  2. Prepare and Submit a Patent Application: Create and file a patent application for your invention that meets the USPTO's requirements for enablement, written description, and best mode. A valid patent application must provide sufficient information for others to make and use your invention.
  3. Engage in Patent Prosecution: Patent prosecution involves communication between patent attorneys and the USPTO. After submitting a patent application, you will likely receive an office action from the USPTO. During patent prosecution, patent claims can be modified, provided that no new matter is introduced. You may also need to file requests for continued examinations or appeal any patent refusals during this stage.
  4. Pay an Issuance Fee
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