Utility patent protection is available for new and nonobvious inventions that are useful. Where available, patents provide the strongest form of protection for one’s innovations. Where an accused product infringes a patent, the infringer will be held strictly liable; meaning that they cannot avoid such liability even were they to establish that they independently arrived at the invention or reverse engineered the invention. Patents are government-sanctioned monopolies on the invention for a limited period of time (generally, 20 years from filing of the application). Design patents are available for the ornamental features of a manufactured item and extend for a period of 15 years from issuance.
Not all patents are created equal though. It is critical that the claims of the patent (the section of the patent outlining the precise scope of the invention from a legal standpoint) are crafted broad enough to encompass likely infringers; otherwise, competitors will be able to easily design around the patent claims and commercialize their inventions without incurring liability. At the same time, however, if the claims are drafted too broadly, they may ensnare what is already known and will, therefore, be rejected by the patent examiner. Or, if the examiner nonetheless allows the claim (e.g., due to an oversight or a misunderstanding of the technology), they may be invalidated in subsequent proceedings initiated by third-parties, whether that be in administrative challenges before the Patent Office or in litigation in the courts. For these reasons, it is critical that patent claims are drafted with a high degree of precision and only after careful, extended consideration and analysis conducted by an experienced patent lawyer. Such analysis and claim drafting must take into account both the technical complexities and nuances of the invention as well as the legal standards governing patentability.
I wish that I could tell you that once your patent has been issued, you are “sitting pretty.” This is not the case, however. In order to exact value from your patent, others that might otherwise benefit from the invention must believe that you are willing and able to enforce the patent through patent infringement litigation if necessary. If successful In conveying such willingness and ability, there are several measures of value a patent may yield. For example, one might wish to license a patent and enjoy passive income from royalties earned under the license. Patents can also be used to keep competitors off the market. Patent-owners can sue infringers in federal court and may potentially be awarded a court order keeping would-be infringers off of the market (i.e., an injunction). Or maybe the patent-owner wishes to enter the market and their owning the patent will give them the intellectual property “muscle” to do so such that they can enter into cross-licensing agreements with other patent-owning market participants. Regardless of your strategy for realizing value from your patent, any such value will be directly proportional to the strength of your patent. Retaining an experienced patent lawyer to help you obtain your patent will substantially increase the likelihood of your being issued the strongest patent possible.
Chiacchio IP regularly prepares and files patent applications for its clients and prosecutes the applications through to issuance. Further, Chiacchio IP’s Founder and Owner Ted Chiacchio is an experienced, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office-registered, patent lawyer with over 15 years of experience litigating patent infringement cases. Ted has played an active role in five, high-stakes, patent infringement trials in U.S. federal district courts throughout the country. If you are considering pursuing patent protection for your invention; you have a patent and believe that others may be infringing your patent, or someone is alleging that you may infringe their patent, Chiacchio IP would welcome an opportunity to discuss your matter with you. Chiacchio IP does not charge a fee for initial consultations.