Patent Law in Maine

There are times when it is appropriate to bet on yourself and do things your way. It is this spirit that leads to some of our great inventors and entrepreneurs in Maine, and throughout the U.S. However, when it comes to protecting your work and filing patents so others don’t steal your property, your best course of action is probably to retain an experienced patent attorney in Maine.

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.

The USPTO released a graph showing the location and contribution for all inventors in Maine. The graph lists the county in which the inventor resides, the year the patent was granted, and the number of patents granted in that calendar year. While Maine is one of the smaller states in the U.S. in terms of population, there were over 5,500 patents granted between 200 and 2015. However, the Maine Press Herald states that the loss of Maine’s Patent Program has left inventors and innovators open to fraud and theft. This is where an experienced Maine patent attorney can help you protect your inventions.

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

Maine 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 Maine

The process of applying for a patent in Maine 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 Raymond H. Fogler Library, located on the campus of the University of Maine, offers resources to assist those looking to file a patent to protect their work. These resources include, but are not limited to:

  • 1 on 1 patent research training
  • Reference collections
  • Advice on non-patent databases
  • All patents issued from 1790 to present.

The library, however, does not provide legal advice. They are also forbidden from filling out and filing your patent application for you. This is another instance when an experienced Maine patent attorney could be very beneficial. He or she could help you establish whether or not a patent already exists for your invention. They can also help determine if your invention requires a patent, and help you properly file your patent applications.

When Should I Hire an Experienced Maine Patent Lawyer?

There are multiple reasons to hire a patent attorney. If you want the assurance of having someone acting on your behalf, then  Maine 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.

The University of Maine stated that it received a patent for a technological process that creates construction materials using an environmentally friendly binding agent. This process takes leftover wood waste and repurposes it as a binding agent. Receiving this patent means that if someone tries to illegally monetize or gain from this process, the University would have a legal avenue to stop the misuse of their process. This example represents the necessity of patent lawyers for such an instance.

In addition, the Maine Attorney General is warning businesses and individuals that scammers are attempting to use trademark and patent laws to gain access to sensitive information. In this attempt, someone will send you an email telling you that your patent or trademark is about to expire, and that you must re-up to hold on to your intellectual property. If you ever receive such an email, make sure to consult your Maine patent attorney. Never give out personal information or click on unfamiliar links.

Work with an Experienced Local Patent Attorney in Maine

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 Maine state lines.

Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an attorney in your area!

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