Patent Law in California
Patent law covers the many aspects of securing a patent. Due to the fact the process is not always straightforward, there are many rules and legalities of which you must be aware.
Therefore, a California patent law attorney can assist you with understanding all the details and offer you support as you work to secure protection for your inventions. The things a California attorney can assist with may include helping you apply for patents, challenging the patents of someone else and enforcing patents if someone tries to steal your intellectual property.
What Is a Patent?
A patent is protection you secure through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under the intellectual property laws of the United States for your invention. With a patent, you secure the exclusive right to use your intellectual property. A patent enforces the law that no other person can make or profit from something for which you hold the patent.
What Are the Types of Patents?
There are three different types of patents inventors can apply for. Each patent has its own stipulations and serves a different purpose.
- Utility Patent – This is the most common type of patent. It is for new machines, processes/functions, and chemicals.
- Design Patent – These patents are for securing a unique and new design of a manufactured item. Design patents protect from entities trying to capitalize on an invention by replicating the design and producing the product.
- Plant Patent – These types of patents are specifically for the invention of new plant varieties. The process must include asexual reproduction, meaning by means other than seeds.
What Can You Patent?
In reality, not everything you create qualifies for patenting. There are only certain types of intellectual property that fall under patent protection. There are other intellectual property rights that cover other creations. Here is a look at the types of inventions you can patent.
- Process – Also referred to as a method, this is a new way of doing something.
- Machine – This is any material thing or device that has some sort of output, whether functionality or physical object.
- Manufacture – This is the creation of a physical object.
- Composition of matter – This is a mixture of chemical or biological compounds to create something new.
How Do Patents Work?
You can apply for a patent for whichever new device, method, or compound you create by submitting an application to the USPTO. Once the USPTO accepts your patent application and approves it, you become the sole owner of exclusivity rights to use and profit from the invention for the next 20 years, unless it is a design patent in which case the period is 14 years.
If you become aware of another corporation or entity infringing upon your intellectual property, you have the right to challenge that entity in a court of law. This involves litigation and would require a specialized California patent law attorney who has permission to practice in the types of courts that hear patent issues.
How to Apply for a Patent
The process of applying for a patent in California is complex and detailed. You must meet all the requirements and submit every required piece of documentation and information to secure your patent. You must file your application with the USPTO.
It can take up to three years to complete the application process and secure your patent. You also must pay fees to apply and keep up your patent.
The actual patent application will contain the following information:
- Title of the invention
- Statement detailing any research supporting the invention or associated with it
- List of any related patent applications. Sometimes inventions require multiple patents, otherwise someone else can apply for a related patent that will interfere with your total ownership
- Disclosure of any research conducted with an individual or company
- Summary of the invention
- Drawings of the invention (in some cases)
- Oath or declaration of patent
Difference Between a Provisional and Non-Provisional Patent
California inventors often file a provisional patent first, which is like a way of buying time to finalize an invention. Provisional patents last for a year, and the application process is simple. Once you file a provisional patent, you have exactly a year to convert it to a non-provisional patent, which is just another name for the formal and final patent.
When Should I Hire A California Patent Law Lawyer?
There are multiple reasons to hire a patent law lawyer. If you are the cautious type or just want the assurance of having a knowledgeable agent acting on your behalf throughout the application process, then a California patent law lawyer can help you. He or she can assist with every step of the filing process and ensure that you include all the required information.
The most common reason for hiring a patent law lawyer is when you have someone infringing on your patent rights. A California attorney can assist with the initial contact with the alleged infringer to request they stop using your invention. If necessary, an attorney can then take additional steps to go to court.
If you take your case to court and the court agrees that the other party is infringing upon your patent, then you may be entitled to attorney’s fees, damages based on royalties, and an injunction that prevents the other party from ever infringing upon the patent again.
Do I Have to Hire a Patent Law Attorney?
The USPTO does not require you to have an attorney assist you when applying for a patent. However, if you end up with an infringement situation, having a California attorney to file your case is helpful. Such cases must go through federal court, which requires formality and understanding of the laws and procedures.
Furthermore, working with a California patent law attorney from the beginning of your patent process can enable you to bypass common mistakes in the application process and secure your patent more quickly. There have been cases where inventors submit a weak application, whether in terms of lack of information, poor summation of the invention or some other omittance that ends up hindering the strength of the patent. A competent patent attorney can help you with all facets of the patent application. That way you do not miss patenting an integral part of your invention or leave the door open to some other mishap that could harm your invention’s future.
Work with an Experienced Local Patent Law Attorney in California
Patent law attorneys provide a great service in assisting with securing and managing your patent. You should meet with an attorney to discuss how he or she can help you. We can even help you connect with an attorney across California state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an attorney in your area!