Patent Applications

Patent applications protect your inventions. RPL writes patents for your inventions and helps to file them around the world.

Patents protect innovative products and processes by enabling owners to prevent others from making, using, selling, offering to sell, or importing into the U.S. the claimed invention for a period of time. In other words, patents give you the right to exclude others from profiting off of your invention.

Patents can be critical assets for businesses of all sizes, protecting your valuable investments in research and development and maintaining your technological advantage over competitors and copyists.

RPL has deep experience in securing patents of all types, in the U.S. and around the world. The following is a brief summary of the various types of patents for which RPL attorneys can assist you. Follow each link to explore more about these patent applications.

Utility Patents

Utility patent applications protect the functional aspects of your invention. The USPTO grants utility patents to applicants for products, processes, and chemical compositions that are both new and non-obvious. Utility patent applications can be filed as provisional or non-provisional applications, each of which is summarized below.

Non-Provisional Utility Patent Applications

A non-provisional utility patent application is the “complete” utility patent application. It is the patent application that triggers the examination process at the USPTO through which the patent examiner assesses whether your patent application is both new and non-obvious and, therefore, patentable. During the examination (referred to as “patent prosecution”), a patent examiner employed by the USPTO evaluates the claimed subject matter in view of prior published patents and applications, and determines whether the claimed invention is patentable.

The non-provisional application is the right option when the invention is finalized, the business related to the invention is moving forward, and the applicant is ready to proceed full speed ahead with the patent process.

Provisional Utility Patent Applications

Prior to filing a non-provisional utility patent application, an applicant may file a provisional utility patent application (a “provisional application”). A provisional application essentially acts as a place holder for the inventor; it secures a filing date and buys the applicant one year before needing to filing the non-provisional patent application.

Because provisional applications are less expensive to file than non-provisional applications, the one-year deadline can be used to enable a business to explore the marketability and profitability of a given invention before committing to the more costly utility patent application process. Alternatively, if an applicant knows it will pursue a utility patent application on a given invention and is ready to do so, the step of filing a provisional patent application may add unnecessary costs and delays.

Accordingly, depending on the context, a provisional application can be an effective tool for postponing more significant financial investment in the patent process until a better informed business decision can be made, or a provisional patent application may simply be an unnecessary waste of time and resources.  We will work with you to determine the most effective and efficient tools for implementing your patent strategy.

Design Patents

Design patents protect the ornamental, visual (non-functional) features of products. For example, while a tread pattern on the bottom of an athletic shoe serves a utilitarian purpose, the unique appearance of a given pattern may be the claim subject matter of a design patent.

Often, the inventions that are most suited to protecting with design patents are articles that compete in the marketplace based, at least in part, on their aesthetics. For example, while all plastic containers may be more or less equally adept at holding beverages, a unique and visually pleasing bottle may be an asset worth protecting to your beverage company. Similarly, while the shape of an electric guitar body may play a minimal role in the tone of the instrument, protecting a unique body shape may be critical to keeping competitors from piggy-backing off of your creative design.

International Patents

Depending on the scope of your business, you may wish to obtain patent protection in countries outside of the U.S. We work with an extended network of foreign IP attorneys to file patents in countries around the world. We can also file international applications through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT applications). PCT applications set a priority right for your patent and allow you to delay the decision (and expenses) related to which countries for which you want to pursue protection.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss pursuing patent protection for your invention.

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Case Studies

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Behind the Idea: GoSili