DIY Patent Application or Hire a Patent Attorney to Assist?

The filing of a patent application and the continued maintenance of a patent can be daunting for the inexperienced.  Many companies, innovators, and inventors often fail to recognize the importance of hiring an experienced patent attorney. 

In the United States, a patent is issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in order to grant a property right to the inventor.  Generally, the term of a patent lasts twenty years from the date of filing and only extends protection within the United States.  Inventors seeking to expand protection beyond U.S. borders should seek international protection or patent protection within the specific country or jurisdiction in which they seek to exercise their patent rights.  An experienced patent attorney can assist you in filing foreign and/or international patents.

Patent Registration

There are three types of patents: (1) utility patents, (2) design patents, and (3) plant patents.  Utility patents are generally granted to the inventor that discovers a new or useful process, article of manufacture, machine, comparison of matter, or any new or useful improvement.  Design patents are usually granted to inventors that create a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.  Lastly, plant patents are issued to inventors that discover/invent and asexually reproduce any distinct or new variety of plant.

Patent law is very specific and can often be confusing.  Many laymen fail to recognize that you cannot patent an “idea.”  Patent law explicitly specifies that the patent will only be issued to a person who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement therefor.” 

Registering a Patent

When registering a patent, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides further conditions, subject to certain exceptions, that require patents have novelty and non-obviousness.  In order to determine whether your invention is patentable and meets these conditions, you should conduct a patent search to see if your invention has already been publicly disclosed.  While there are many methods and ways to search for published patents, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recommends utilizing an experienced patent attorney to conduct the searcPatent Application

Patent applications are subject to filing fees, search fees, examination fees, and issue fees.  Depending on the patent application, excess claims fees may also apply.  Types of applications differ and for certain patent types, inventors may choose between filing provisional or nonprovisional patent applications.  When available, many consider provisional applications to be helpful in that they allow for inventors to quickly establish U.S. filing dates for their inventions.  These filing dates can then be later claimed in nonprovisional patent applications.    

Patent Attorney

A patent attorney has expertise and experience in filing patent applications.  To help mitigate costs and navigate the process, patent attorneys will use their experience to help you draft claims and file your application in a timely manner.  The language used in drafting a patent can often be obtuse, but patent attorneys understand and recognize the type of language the U.S. Patent Office prefers and utilizes in the drafting of patent claims and applications.      

Patent Maintenance

Once you register your patent with the U.S. Patent Office, you will be required to pay maintenance fees and comply with certain conditions to maintain the protection of your patent.  Hiring a patent attorney will allow you to easily stay on top of the requirements and comply with the fee schedule because the attorneys can remind you of any requirements while facilitating the process in order to keep your patent in force.  

About the firm: 

Klemchuk LLP is an Intellectual Property (IP), Litigation, and Transactions law firm located in Dallas, Texas.  The firm offers comprehensive legal services including litigation and enforcement of all forms of IP as well as registration and licensing of patents, trademarks, trade dress, and copyrights.  The firm also provides a wide range of technology, Internet, e-commerce, and business services including business planning, formation, and financing, mergers and acquisitions, business litigation, data privacy, and domain name dispute resolution.  

The firm publishes the following blogs: Intellectual Property Law, Conversations with Innovators (interviews with thought leaders), Leaders in Law (discussions on timely law topics), and Culture Counts (thoughts on law firm culture and the business of the practice of law).