The Dobrusin Law Firm is recognized as one of the premier patent firms in Michigan and beyond. Our clients include a wide range of businesses, including small and mid-sized privately held businesses and international corporations.
Patent law is one of our primary areas of practice. We invite you to learn more about patents and why it is so important to take steps to protect your intellectual property. Continue reading for answers to frequently asked patent questions.
What Is a Patent?
A patent is essentially a grant issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, granting the patent holder the right to prevent others from making, using, or selling an invention in the United States during a specific timeframe. While a patent stops others from making, using, or selling your invention, it does not necessarily grant you the right to legally build and sell your invention.
What Can Be Patented?
The three primary types of patents are:
- Utility patents that cover items such as machines, processing methods, compositions of matter, and articles of manufacture
- Design patents that cover the appearance of objects, such as ornamental features of an automobile
- Plant patents, which cover a distinct and new variety of plant that has been invented or discovered
Not all inventions are patentable. An invention must be novel, useful, and not obvious in order to potentially qualify for a patent.
How Long Does a Patent Last?
A patent will be valid from the time it is issued by the Patent and Trademark Office until a specified end date which can be as far in the future as 20 years from the initial filing date.
Some types of patents have specific timelines. For example, a patent for a design will be valid for a period of 14 years from the date it is issued by the Patent and Trademark Office.
Can I Renew My Patent?
No, your patent cannot be renewed. Once it expires, the invention enters the public domain and is no longer protected by your patent. Congress occasionally passes laws or additions to the Patent Law which can restore or extend patents, but this applies to very few patents. For all intents and purposes, patent terms cannot be extended.
What Does “Patent Pending” Mean?
“Patent Pending” or “Patent Applied For” is nothing more than terms used to show that you have a patent application on file with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This does not mean that your patent will be granted or that your invention is protected as if it was patented.