When an individual, team, company, or other enterprise creates something unique, it is important to protect their intellectual property rights from infringement or theft. Whether this creation is an invention, a brand, a novel, or a formula, there are specific ways to accomplish this goal. In addition to patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets are the different ways in which intellectual property is protected. Since patents are applied for on a regular basis in a variety of industries, they will be briefly discussed below.
Different Types of Patents
There are a variety of criteria that need to be met in order to obtain a patent. If the intellectual property is an invention, for example, it needs to meet these three:
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, utility patents are the more common. These represent approximately 90% of the patent documents issued. Design and plant patents are also available when the criteria for issuance is met. When a company has created unique product packaging, for instance, they may be able to obtain a design patent. These types of patents expire 14 years from the date that they are issued. Utility patents, however, are effective for 20 years. Maintenance fees will also be required during this time period.
Digital communication and computer technology patent applications continue to be prevalent, particularly on an international level. In 2016, for example, they comprised the most requested international patent applications. Given the fact that this industry continues to expand, it is highly likely that both domestic and international patent applications will be applied for and awarded.
When to Consult With a Patent Attorney
If you need assistance with the patent process or with protecting other types of intellectual property, it’s a good idea to consult with an attorney with experience in this area of the law. Given the incidence of both domestic and international patent infringement, you want to work with a professional that understands the nuances of the laws under these and other circumstances.
In the event that someone is attempting to, or has already infringed upon your rights, then a patent attorney can provide you with advice and represent you through this legal process. As previously mentioned, patent infringement suits are of great concern. As recently as 2016, the legal analytics firm, Lex Machina. reported that there were 4,537 of these suits filed. In order to protect your interests, as well as those of others that may be involved, consulting with patent lawyers makes sense on multiple levels.