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Patenting Invention Ideas: Patent Terms All Inventors Should Know
Do you need to patent an invention idea? The invention process is difficult whether you are new or experienced. Industry jargon can be confusing, especially when you start looking into patenting. The endless legal vocabulary and technical terms can be hard to understand. Educate yourself on patents by reviewing this list of patent terms.
Abandonment: A patent application becomes abandoned for failure to file a complete and proper reply as the condition of the application may require within the time period provided unless an Office action indicates otherwise. Abstract: A brief (150 words or less) summary of a patent, usually printed on the first page.
Allowed: When the Examiner decides that a claim in an application is patentable, it is “allowed”. If all of the claims in the application are allowed, the Examiner will issue a “Notice of Allowance and Issue Fee Due”, indicating that examination of the application is now over, and setting a deadline (three months, typically) for paying the issue fee. Often, this is accompanied by a document entitled “Reasons for Allowance”, in which the Examiner explains why he/she thinks the claims are patentable. Once the issue fee is paid, the USPTO will issue the patent.
Annuity Fee: Annual payment to keep patent or patent application alive in some countries. Unlike the US, most countries which have annuities require them to be paid both during the pendency of the patent application and after the application issues as a patent. In some countries, annuities must be paid every year starting from the filing of the application, in others the annuities start some years after the filing date. In the US, similar fees are due only after the patent is issued (Also known as maintenance fee or renewal fee)
Bill of Materials: Itemization of parts, supplies, or services making up an item
Claim: The legal definition of a patented invention. It is a written definition of the legally enforceable boundaries of the claimed invention, and determines what the inventor can exclude others from making, using, selling or importing into the United States.
Design Patent: May be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. Examiner: employee of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) who reviews patent applications. Each examiner is assigned to an Art Unit, and handles applications in one particular area of technology.
Filing Date: The date of receipt in the Office of an application which includes (1) a specification containing a description and, if the application is a non-provisional application, at least one claim, and (2) any required drawings. First to File: In a first-to-file system, the right to the grant of a patent for a given invention lies with the first person to file a patent application for protection of that invention, regardless of the date of actual invention. The first-inventor-to-file provision took effect March 16, 2013.
First to Invent: the inventor who first conceived of the invention and then diligently reduced it to practice by filing a patent application (or actual reduction to practice) is considered the first inventor and is entitled to patent protection. This system is no longer used in the United States.
Intellectual Property: Creations of the mind – creative works or ideas embodied in a form that can be shared or can enable others to recreate, emulate, or manufacture them. There are four ways to protect intellectual property – patents, trademarks, copyrights or trade secrets. (Also known as “IP.”)
Invention: Any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.
Patent: a property right granted by the Government of the United States of America to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States” for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted. There are three different types of patents – utility, design, and plant-each of which has distinct requirements.
Patent Attorney: An individual who is a member in good standing of the bar of any United States court or the highest court of any State and who is registered to practice before the Office. (May be referred to as a practitioner or representative) Patent Pending: A phrase that often appears on manufactured items. It means that someone has applied for a patent on an invention idea that is contained in the manufactured item. It serves as a warning that a patent may issue that would cover the item and that copiers should be careful because they might infringe if the patent issues. Once the patent issues, the patent owner will stop using the phrase “patent pending” and start using a phrase such as “covered by U.S. Patent Number XXXXXXX.” Applying the patent pending phrase to an item when no patent application has been made can result in a fine.
Patent Troll: A person or company that attempts to enforce patent rights against accused infringes far beyond the patent’s actual value or contribution to the prior art. Patent trolls often do not manufacture products or supply services based upon the patents in question.
Preliminary Patent-ability Search: A preliminary and non-binding opinion on whether the invention claimed in an international application appears to be novel, to involve an inventive step (to be non-obvious), and to be industrially applicable.
Prior Art: “What went before” – publications, earlier patents, public use or sale – anything which is relevant to the patent-ability of an invention because it shows that the invention was known before the applicant filed his patent application (under the First Inventor to File rules applicable after March 16, 2013) or before the inventor invented the invention (under the pre-March 16th First to Invent rules).
Provisional Application (for Patent): A sort of “patent application lite”, which reserves a filing date for the material in the application, but will never be examined or become a patent. Provisional Applications are automatically abandoned one year after filing, and a utility application must be filed within that year claiming benefit of the Provisional Application to preserve the filing date
United States Patent and Trademark Office: (USPTO) is an agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce that issues patents to inventors and businesses for their inventions, and trademark registration for product and intellectual property identification. Utility Patent: May be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new, useful, and non-obvious process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof.