Free Basic Simple Patent Information For New Inventors From A Fellow Long-Time Inventor.

Patents, Prototypes, Manufacturing, and Marketing New Inventions

Free Basic Simple Patent Information For New Inventors About The Hows and Whys of Patents.






Free Basic Simple Patent Information For New Inventors

Free Basic Simple Patent Information

Here is the definition of a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office:

A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Generally, the term of a new patent is 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. U.S. patent grants are effective only within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions. Under certain circumstances, patent term extensions or adjustments may be available. 

The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. What is granted is not the right to make, use, offer for sale, sell or import, but the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention. Once a patent is issued, the patentee must enforce the patent without aid of the USPTO. 

Three types of patents:

Utility patents: any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matters, or any new useful improvement thereof; 

Design patents: a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture; and

Plant patents: any distinct and new variety of plants.

What Is a Patent?

A patent is a grant issued to an inventor by the US or some other countries government. Under the law, a patent is an offensive weapon. A patent grants you the right to stop others from using, making, or selling your invention in the country issuing the patent.

How Long Does A Patent Last?

Utility and plant patents last for 20 years from the date the patent was filed. Design patents last 14 years from the date the patent was issued.  Failing to pay the maintenance fees when due will cause your patent to expire.

Patents are guaranteed an in-force period of 17 years minimum. To compensate for delays resulting from a failure by the Patent and Trademark Office to process the patent application in a timely fashion you can have the patent extended.

The Specification

The first part of a patent is the “specification” portion where the invention is described.  Section 112 of the patent laws contains the following words:

“The specification shall contain a written description of the invention, and of the manner and process of making and using it, in such full, clear, concise and exact terms a to enable any person skilled in the art to which it pertains, or with which it is most nearly connected, to make and use the same, and shall set forth the bet mode contemplated by the inventor of carrying out the invention.”


The claims define the structure or acts of the invention in a precise manner using exact terms in a logical manner.  The claims tell the “bounds” or “scope” of the invention.  In other words, the claims determine exactly what will infringe the patent.  The claims must be specific enough to define the invention over any prior art.

There are independent claims which stand alone, and dependent claims which narrow the scope of the independent claim.

If you are tying to find out if your new invention idea infringes on the patent you are reading, then you would first read the specification to find out how your invention differs.  Then you would read the claims, because the claims spell out exactly what will infringe the patent. 

If a claim has three elements, x, y, and z, and your invention only has x, and y, but not z then you are not infringing.  If your invention has x, y, z, and q, then you are still infringing.  The patent office doesn’t care about infringement, so you could still be issued a patent, but it would infringe the first patent.

In that case maybe you could work something out with the other inventor, or perhaps the previous invention will expire sooner than yours. Life can be so complicated…




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