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A patent is a grant of exclusive rights in an invention. To be patentable in most jurisdictions, including Singapore, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao, United Kingdom and Europe, an invention must be useful and proper subject matter. In addition, it must be novel and inventive. An invention is considered to be novel if it was not previously disclosed or known to the public anywhere in the world. An invention is inventive if it would not be obvious to an average person working in the field to which the invention relates, taking into consideration the state of the art on the day you file your patent application (and in some cases on the date of invention).

Technology companies should carefully consider a patent strategy in light of their product offerings and the innovations made in those products. For companies that compete on the basis of innovation and technical distinction, patents are critical assets that increase the value of the company, provide licensing revenue, add value to products, discourage copying, and eliminate competition from infringing products. Patent laws deal harshly with infringers, who may be liable for monetary damages including attorneys' fees, and may be prevented from manufacture, sale, and use of patented technology by injunction. Willful infringers may be subject to willful damages of three times the actual damages.

Through our combination of legal and technical expertise, our attorneys are skilled at assimilating inventors' technical information, and recognizing the multiple innovative aspects of a particular innovation for broadly claiming each aspect individually to obtain intellectual property protections that anticipates and avoids legal challenge in proceedings such as litigation, interferences, and reexamination. The attorneys at MACIPO & ASSOCIATES can also implement a foreign patent program through interaction with foreign associates.

To determine whether a particular idea is patentable, we suggest having a patentability search carried out. To determine whether your device might infringe someone else's device, we suggest having an infringement type search carried out in the competent Patent Offices, or both. Although a search is not a pre-requisite to filing a patent application, the cost of a search is considerably less than drafting and filing a patent application. Accordingly, if a search reveals that an idea has been disclosed in a prior reference, performing the search will save the expense of preparing and filing a patent application for an invention for which patent protection is no longer available.

The cost to draft and file a first patent application depends on the complexity of the invention, and the cost may also increase if the application requires numerous revisions to incorporate on-going improvements and modifications.

Please note that patent applications for all countries in which patent protection is desired need not be filed right away in many cases. Often, after filing a first application, you may take advantage of a one year period within which to file patent applications in other countries. The costs of filing overseas vary considerably from country to country.

After filing a patent application, there are normally further costs associated with guiding the application through to the patent grant stage, such as convincing a Patent Examiner that the application is one for which a patent should issue. This procedure is referred to as "prosecution" of a patent application. The prosecution costs will depend on the number of objections raised by the Patent Examiner and the difficulty encountered in overcoming these objections. Also, once a patent application is allowed there is a final issue fee to be paid. Finally, for some other countries, annual government maintenance fees must be paid to prevent an application or issued patent from expiring prematurely.

It should be noted that the time span between preparing and filing an application and obtaining the grant of a national/regional patent is often at least two years, and longer in some countries and/or regions.

In order to prevent others from exploiting your idea prior to you seeking patent protection and to preserve your rights to pursue patent protection, it is advisable that you refrain from disclosing your invention's design to anyone prior to the filing of a patent application. Any disclosure you make of your idea to other parties should be protected by a formal confidentiality agreement.

Fast Patent Facts
  • Inventions must be kept confidential to be patentable.

  • Inventions must be capable of industrial application.

  • Granting a patent application can take several years.

  • Patents can be renewed for a maximum of 20 years .

"...If you decide to protect patents or trademarks around, check out MACIPO.NET..."

James Potvin
IP@Industry USA

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