Patent Law in Washington

Washington inventors should take every step available to protect their work. One of these steps is to patent your invention or design. However, navigating this process can be difficult and time consuming. As such, you may want to hire an experienced Washington patent attorney to help you protect your intellectual property.

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 located in Seattle is available to help Washington residents protect their inventions and designs. This office is under the auspices of the regional office located in Silicon Valley. The Washington Secretary of State reports that a patent can be filed either with the USPTO or the Washington Secretary of State’s Office. However, a patent filed with the SOS will only be upheld in the state of Washington.

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

Washington 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 Washington

The process of applying for a patent in Washington 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.

A full guide to filing patents and trademarks is provided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. You’ll need to determine whether or not your intellectual property qualifies for a patent or trademark. You’ll also need to:

  • Determine which type of patent you need
  • Assess if this particular invention or design already exists
  • Provide thorough documentation of your work in creating the property
  • File your patent application
  • Respond to any objections the patent examiner may have

Washington investors can use the law library at the University of Washington to conduct their preliminary research. However, it may be in your best interest to retain an experienced patent attorney in Washington. He or she can help you file and be certain that no time is wasted by improperly filing.

When Should I Hire an Experienced Washington Patent Lawyer?

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

While the uninitiated may not be familiar with the term, patent trolling has become problematic in Washington. This is a process where a group or individual lays in wait to file a patent, or claim an expiring patent, with the sole purpose of holding it hostage. The patent troll will then attempt to sell the patent back to the owner or corporation. KIRO7 reports that the Washington Attorney General has filed suits against a company that has built its business on patent trolling smaller companies. The AG has called the practice predatory.

You have every right to enforce your patent rights if someone has infringed upon them. If necessary you can take legal action by hiring an experienced Washington patent attorney to forcibly stop the infringement in court. You may also be entitled to monetary damages if the infringement has cost you revenue.

Work with an Experienced Local Patent Attorney in Washington

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 Washington 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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