Title to a Patent

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 What Is a Patent?

Patents are property rights granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to inventors.

A patent is generally valid for 20 years from the date the patent application was filed in the United States or, in some cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to payment of maintenance fees.

Patents granted by the United States are effective only within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions. Patent term extensions or adjustments may be possible in certain circumstances.

A patent grant confers, in the words of the statute and the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” it into the country. Inventions cannot be made, used, offered for sale, sold, or imported, but only excluded from being made, used, offered for sale, sold, or imported by others. Upon issuance of a patent, the patentee must enforce the patent without the assistance of the USPTO.

What Is a Trademark or Servicemark?

Trademarks are words, names, symbols, or devices that are used in trade to identify the source of goods and distinguish them from those of others. Unlike a trademark, a service mark identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product.

Generally, both trademarks and servicemarks are referred to as “trademarks” or “marks.”

It is possible to use trademark rights to prevent others from using confusingly similar marks but not to prevent others from making or selling goods or services under a clearly different mark. USPTO registration is available for trademarks used in interstate or foreign commerce. The trademark registration process and general information about trademarks can be found here.

What Is a Copyright?

Authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works, both published and unpublished, are protected by copyright.

According to the 1976 Copyright Act, the owner of a copyright has the exclusive right to reproduce the copyrighted work, prepare derivative works, distribute copies of the copyrighted work, perform the copyrighted work publicly, or exhibit the copyrighted work publicly.

What Can Be Patented?

Patent law specifies the general subject matter that can be patented as well as the conditions for obtaining a patent.

The statute says that anyone who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent.”

According to law, a process includes industrial and technical processes. There is no need to explain the term “machine” used in the statute.

The term “manufacture” refers to all articles that are made.

“Composition of matter” refers to chemical compositions, including mixtures of ingredients as well as new compounds.

Everything that is made by humans and the processes involved in making it are included in these classes of subject matter.

Trademark or Brand?

Essentially, a brand is how people feel about your product or service. Different brands are associated with certain elements, such as reputation, image, and emotion. You might feel confident, calm, or secure when you use a certain brand.

A federal trademark registration, however, can provide your brand with nationwide legal protection. Trademark law gives you the option of protecting your brand. It is common for business owners to protect their brand names for their main or dominant products or services. If you have a slogan or logo for those goods or services, you can protect them as well.

It is up to you to decide what you want to protect and how much.

It is possible to have a brand without registering it as a trademark. Nevertheless, if you do not register your brand as a trademark, anyone could misuse your brand or create a brand that is so similar to yours that people cannot tell the difference. Consequently, even if consumers trust your brand’s reputation, they might purchase someone else’s products or services by mistake if they cannot tell the difference between the trademarks.

What Is Color of Title?

Many people are familiar with the concept of “color of title” in real estate transactions. Yet, the color of title also applies in intellectual property law, which governs the ownership of info or ideas. In this context, the color of the title is a phrase that means having the appearance of title to a patent, but in reality, there is either no title or a critical defect in the title.

Consequently, if one has a color of title, then the other (actual) patent holder has a “cloud on title” since his title has a defect.

In this example, the color of title occurs when the widow of an inventor sells the rights to one party and then uses the original patent documents to sell the patent to a second party.

How Does Color of Title Affect a Patent?

When someone has color of title that appears to be correct on the face of the document, they may have a proper claim to begin a quiet title action against the actual patent holder.

Quiet title actions are court proceedings to resolve title disputes. In order to quiet the title, the patent holder must provide evidence to the court that he is the legal owner by defending his own title against the color of title.

If I Don’t Pay a Maintenance Fee, What Happens?

In the absence of maintenance fees and any applicable surcharges, patent protection lapses, and the rights provided by a patent cease to exist.

What About Mailed Notices?

To prevent patent expiration, the patentee must ensure maintenance fees and any applicable surcharges are paid on time. A Maintenance Fee Reminder notice is sent if the maintenance fee is not paid within the first six months of the year.

A Notice of Patent Expiration is sent to the fee address or correspondence address on file if the maintenance fee and any necessary surcharge are not paid within four, eight, or twelve years after the date of issue.

It is not the USPTO’s responsibility to monitor the time for paying a maintenance fee if the patentee has not received the notices. Notices are sent to the correspondence address if a fee address has not been established.

How Does the Patent System Work? Why Is it Important to Understand it?

Underrepresented groups are not fully participating in innovation in the United States due to demographic characteristics, geography, and economic conditions. In 2016, only 12% of inventors named on United States patents were women, according to research done by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

How Will I Know if I Have a Valid Title to a Patent?

In dealing with the patent process, an intellectual property lawyer is extremely helpful. Whether filing a patent claim, researching, or pursuing an action for infringement, an experienced patent attorney in this field is familiar with the patent process and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office procedures.

Protecting a patent is extremely important to your livelihood and intellectual property. Intellectual property law is extremely complex. It requires the expertise of an expert patent attorney. To find the right patent attorney for your needs, use LegalMatch today.

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