Patent Law in Durham, NC
Are you familiar with the name Commodore Council?
The North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources credits this Durham resident with creating headache powder. This convenient product helped mill workers and others have more productive days in the late 1800s.
Whether you’d like to patent a cure for the common headache or complex machinery, you may need legal advice. Find out how the system works and what an attorney can do in the following paragraphs.
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 off of something for which you have a patent.
The USPTO lists the Raleigh Patent and Trademark Resource Center as a source for research. Other concerns or questions can go to the USPTO headquarters located in Alexandria, VA.
What Are the Types of Patents?
There are three different types of patents inventors can apply for. Each patent has 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
Durham, NC 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. The latter is just another name for the formal and final patent.
How to Apply for a Patent in Durham NC
The process of applying for a patent in Durham, North Carolina 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.
The University of North Carolina outlines what happens when someone from Durham engages in this undertaking. On average, you will wait around 20 months to engage with an examiner. The back and forth that follows can lead to three years of waiting for the approval of your intellectual property.
As a result, you need to prepare to act promptly to any office actions from the USPTO. Accordingly, having an experienced patent lawyer can help you have confidence in your replies. A few of the situations where they can prove helpful include:
- Revising drawings or diagrams
- Eliminating unnecessary content
- Amending specification documents
- Appealing rejections
When Should I Hire a Qualified Durham, North Carolina Patent Lawyer?
There are multiple reasons to hire a patent attorney. If you want the assurance of having someone acting on your behalf, then Durham patent law lawyers can help you. He or she 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.
Once others have a chance to get to know your invention, you will need to protect it against infringement. According to HowStuffWorks, the potential loss of income in Durham can be a high-stakes situation. One notable example comes from a dispute between RIM and holding company NTP. By the end of the litigation, the maker of the Blackberry phone settled for $612.5 million over this patent dispute.
Work with an Experienced Local Patent Attorney in Durham, North Carolina
A patent attorney provides a great service in assisting with securing and managing your patent. You should meet with a qualified Durham attorney to discuss how he or she can help you. We can even help you connect with an attorney across North Carolina state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an attorney in your area!