The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), under the US Department of Commerce (USDOC), is responsible for receiving and evaluating patent applications eventually granting intellectual property rights protections to deserving applications by granting patents, copyrights, and trademarks.
The USDOC is also responsible for maintaining records of these granted patents and giving the public access to these patents through patent searches. Giving the public easy access to these records ensures that patents can be easily double-checked and respected; after all, people cannot observe a patent if they don’t know that there’s one in the first place.
The USPTO works for hand in hand with Congress which has the power to create and enact US patent laws. It is these laws that define the patentability of an object and define the rights that owning a patent gives to its patent holder.
The work of the US patent office and US Congress in protecting patents is important because it protects inventors and businesses along with their inventions and products. This ensures that people in the US are allowed to innovate and not be taken advantage of, thus pushing forward the industrial and technological progress in the country.
There are many forms of protection that the USPTO grants to intellectual property as stated above- patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Each of these has its use case scenario. Read on to learn more or talk to one of our DC patent lawyers to know more.
Types of Intellectual Property Protection Offered by the USPTO
When the USPTO gives a patent to an inventor, he is awarded the property rights of that invention. This means that only he is allowed to make, use, advertise, and sell the invention.
A patent usually has a life of 20 years, but maybe adjusted and extended in some scenarios. US Patents are also only enforceable within the United States as other countries require patents to be filed again under their system.
There are three types of patents:
- Utility patents– for the discovery of novel machines, manufacturing materials, compounds, useful processes, or improvement of previous technology.
- Design patents– for a novel, ornamental design.
- Plant patents– for the discovery or invention of a new type of plant that could be asexually reproduced.
Trademarks and Servicemarks
Trademarks can be thought of as the branding that a company places on an object to distinguish it from other goods of a similar type. For example, while Burger King and McDonald’s both make burgers, they have trademarks that differentiate Whoppers™ and Big Macs™.
While trademarks are applied to products, service marks serve the same function but are applied to services.
Trademarks and service marks are used to protect the branding of a company and prevent others from creating products that may be mistaken for the trademarked item. This is important to ensure buyers only buy the brand they intend to buy and also for companies to be able to protect the reputation of their brands.
Copyrights, on the other hand, are granted to authors that pen an original work including musical, dramatic, literary, and other intellectual works, whether the work is published or not. A copyright gives the original author the right to reproduce, disseminate, display, and perform the work, as well as create derivative work off of the original.
Essentially, copyrights are a person’s “right to copy” his work and reproduce it. While copyrights can be registered, copyrightable creations are protected by copyright laws the moment they are created. This means that simply copying a person’s homework or journal entry, for instance, is already, technically, in violation of copyright law.
If you have any more questions regarding the patent process, patent protection, and the US intellectual property laws, don’t hesitate to contact a Washington, DC patent lawyer at War IP Law PLLC, a Washington, DC patent law firm. Our patent attorneys are knowledgeable of IP law and can help you with your patent application.
What Can be Patented?
The patentability of an object is subject to the patent law which is codified in Title 35 of the United States Code. According to the statute, patentable objects include novel and useful machines, manufactures, compositions of matter, and any new and useful improvement.
The notable description used for the items is “useful” which means that something is not automatically patentable just because it is new. Inventions need to have purpose and operativeness to be patented. This means that the mere idea or suggestion of a new machine is also not patentable.
The US Code also prohibits the patenting of nuclear and atomic inventions solely intended for use in atomic weapons. Laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas are similarly not patentable.
Why Get a Patent Lawyer?
If you have an invention and are planning to file a patent for it, it is advised that you talk to a patent lawyer or intellectual property lawyers in Washington DC.
Patent law can often get messy and confusing concerning the provisions and requirements when applying for a patent. A patent attorney or intellectual property attorney can help you better understand the laws surrounding intellectual property rights and can help you identify which form of protection is right for your invention.
Intellectual property attorneys can also help you draft your patent application that can suit the standards of the USPTO. An IP attorney will be able to write the description and claims in such a way that can explain it clearly and convince the patent office that your invention is deserving of patent protection.
So, to make sure that your invention can be afforded the protection it deserves as a novel creation, be sure to consult with a registered patent attorney from a reputable Washington DC intellectual property law firm today. Call us now at War IP Law, PLLC.