Patent Law in North Carolina

Did you know that Pepsi, Vicks VapoRub, and the Universal Product Code were all invented in North Carolina? If you’re an inventor in North Carolina, you’ve probably dreamed of your idea joining the league of those iconic inventions. However, the key to longevity is securing a patent – a daunting, competitive, and highly legal process. But don’t stop dreaming – read on to see how a North Carolina patent attorney can help you protect your invention, legacy, and profits.

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.

If you are an inventor in North Carolina, you can reach out to the USPTO Eastern Regional Outreach Office (EROO). EROO is located in the USPTO Headquarters in Virginia. For additional support, you can access the North Carolina Patent and Trademark Resource Centers in Raleigh and Charlotte.

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

North Carolina 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 North Carolina

The process of applying for a patent in 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 (UNC) faculty and staff are turning an increasing number of ideas into inventions, patents, technologies, and startups. In fact, UNC has experienced a 26% increase in new patent applications, and a 66% increase in issued US patents. Keep in mind, universities typically work with experienced patent attorneys throughout this process.

Securing a patent in North Carolina can begin with filing a provisional patent. Filing a provisional patent gives you one year to determine the commercial viability of your invention, and time to prepare a nonprovisional patent application. This typically requires working with an experienced North Carolina patent lawyer. For example, you must include an application fee, a claims description, prior research, and related patent applications. You must also submit a drawing, and an oath testifying you are the original creator.

When Should I Hire an Experienced 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  North Carolina 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.

Licensing your patent can be fraught with difficulty. However, an experienced North Carolina patent attorney will be familiar with the restrictions surrounding the extraction of patent royalties. Your patent attorney can also help protect your patent from patent infringement.

Additionally, a North Carolina patent attorney can help you fight back against the increasing threat of patent trolling. In 2014, North Carolina passed The Abusive Patents Assertions Act. The Act creates a state law tort action for a bad faith assertion of patent infringement. Your attorney can bring suit under the law or bring a counterclaim to patent infringement.

Work with an Experienced Local Patent Attorney in North Carolina

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 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!

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