I frequently speak with individuals who believe they have come up with a new invention and want to protect it with a patent, but have no idea of how to go about obtaining a patent. The patenting process can be complicated if it is not something you deal with day-to-day. The following are some questions on the patent process I frequently hear.
First of all, what is a patent? I sometimes speak with individuals who believe they must first get a patent for their invention before they can make and sell the invention. That is not entirely accurate. The patent is a right granted by the United States Government to an inventor to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the inventor’s invention throughout the United States or importing the inventor’s invention into the United States for use or sale. The right is granted by the government for a limited period of time in exchange for the inventor publicly disclosing the invention in the granted patent. Note that the right is granted by the United States Government and therefore the patent only has effect in the United States. I at times get questions on whether a United States patent has any effect in other countries, for example Canada, which it does not. (more…)