What happens after you submit a patent disclosure with a law firm? That’s an easy question with a highly complicated answer. It’s one RIoT hears often from our RAP startups. Michael Steel and Igor Ozeruga from Tarolli Law Firm broke it down for us during a recent Lunch & Learn. Mike and Igor are great at the impossible task of making patent law exciting and easy to understand. If you are interested in learning more about patents and patent law in a lively and informative way, I highly recommend watching the recording of this webinar below.
Without getting too deeply in the weeds, here are the basics that I learned.
- What is a patent? Igor explained that a patent is a property that provides the right to exclude others. It essentially gives you a monopoly over your idea. He went on to say it’s a negative and defensive right to prevent others from doing something with your intellectual idea or invention.
- Mike said that a great way to think about a patent, is to think of it as a deal. You, the inventor, are striking a deal with the patent office. That deal provides you protection. From a business perspective, it makes quite a bit of sense.
- There are two types of patents: a utility and a design. A utility patent lasts for 20 years and protects the way something works- the function of an invention. Whereas a design patent lasts for 14 year and protects the way something looks- the non functional part of an invention. Oftentimes inventors will file for both types of patents.
- Once you are ready with a patent-worthy idea or invention, the process is very simple on paper but extremely complex behind the scenes.
- Getting a patent is a two step process. During the first step (known as patent preparation), an inventor will submit a disclosure, the law firm will perform a patentability search, and finally draft the provisional and nonprovisional applications. The second step is called patent prosecution. This step includes the non-final office action, final office action, advisory action, appeal, and continuation application.
- Having an experienced patent attorney, like those at Tarolli Law Firm to navigate the process is essential.
A few things to remember about patent law: 1) Patents can be bought, sold, and licensed like any other type of property; 2) You shouldn’t patent everything. Igor provided an example of a patent filed in the early 90’s for cat exercise using a laser pointer… Clearly someone hadn’t had a full cup of coffee that day.