Patent Law in Delaware

Filing a patent without legal help can lead to the very discouraging end of a once promising idea. In fact, evidence cited in “The Lone Inventor: Low Success Rates and Common Errors Associated with Pro-Se Patent Applications” indicates that these applicants have a 76% abandonment rate. Keep in mind, your bold idea may face limited time and fierce competition. By hiring an experienced Delaware patent lawyer, you can avoid the common pitfalls that derail an application and get your patent over the finish line.

What Is a Patent?

Patent law covers the many aspects of securing a patent. There are many legalities to understand, from copyrighting products and advertising, to the Lanham Act. Basically, a patent is a legal protection you secure through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, (USPTO), under intellectual property laws. A patent guarantees the exclusive right to use your intellectual property. It also helps enforce that no other person can make or profit from something for which you hold the patent.

Delaware inventors can deal with the USPTO Eastern Regional Outreach Office (EROO), which serves the Eastern United States. EROO is based out of the USPTO Headquarters, located in  Alexandria, Virginia.

What Are the Types of Patents?

There are three different types of patents inventors can apply for. Each patent has specific 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 and producing it.
  • 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. Other intellectual property rights cover different 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.

You can apply for a patent for whichever new device, method, or compound you create by applying to the USPTO. Once they accept your patent application and approve it, you have exclusivity rights to the invention for the next 20 years. However, a design patent period lasts for 14 years.

Difference Between a Provisional and Non-Provisional Patent

Delaware inventors often file a provisional patent first, which is 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 a year to convert it to a non-provisional patent. The latter is just another name for the formal and final patent.

How to Apply for a Patent in Delaware

The process of applying for a patent in Delaware is complex and detailed. You must meet all the requirements and submit every required piece of documentation to secure your patent. You must file your application with the USPTO.

According to Delaware Business Now, Delaware ranks first on a short list of the most innovative states in the US. Specifically, the state h-as an innovation rate of more than 20 utility patents per 1,000 people. Consequently, it is advisable to do a patent search before you apply for a patent for your own invention. The University of Delaware provides information and resources to help search for patents.

Securing a patent in Delaware can start with filing a provisional patent. According to Forbes, a provisional patent gives you 12 months to determine the commercial viability of your invention. However, you still need to submit an application fee, data sheet, drawings of the invention, and a description of the invention. This gives you time to prepare the more detailed, non-provisional patent application, which typically requires the help of an experienced Delaware patent lawyer. For example, you must include a claims description, research, related patent applications, a drawing, and an oath testifying you are the original creator of your invention.

When Should I Hire an Experienced Delaware Patent Lawyer?

There are multiple reasons to hire a patent attorney. If you want the assurance of having someone acting on your behalf, then  Delaware patent law lawyers can help you. They can assist with every step of the filing process and ensure that you include all the required information. Additionally, they may be able to guide you when it comes to navigating consumer laws, as well as help you avoid false advertising. This can prove especially valuable if you are trying to merge, or transform your invention into a business.

Protecting your patent in Delaware has always been a lengthy and complex process. Delaware patent holders should also be aware that patent infringement cases are now shifting from Texas to Delaware. According to Bloomberg News, a 2017 decision by the US Supreme Court held that a domestic corporation resides only in its state of incorporation. This has dramatically restricted where patent cases may be litigated. Keep in mind, two-thirds of the Fortune 500 are incorporated in Delaware. Consequently, hiring an experienced Delaware patent attorney to handle your patent infringement case is more important than ever.

Work with an Experienced Local Patent Attorney in Delaware

A patent lawyer provides 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 Delaware state lines.

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