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Question: What is a patent?

Answer: A patent is a document issued by the government granting an inventor the exclusive rights to the use of his invention or new idea and denying others the rights of usage or production of the invention or new product for a certain length of time.

Question: What agency handles the issuance of patents in this country?

Answer: The patent laws in the United States are handled by the Patent and Trademark Office in the Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C..

Question: How do I get a patent issued for my invention?

Answer: First, you must apply for the patent by filing a completed application and submitting the necessary fee's. The application must be filed by the actual inventor. If there are two or more inventors, they must file jointly.

A patent is issued only after the application is totally completed and it has been determined that the invention is new and useful.

Question: If I am not sure how to file for a patent, is there someone who can help me with the filing process?

Answer: There are patent attorneys and patent agencies that, for a fee, will help you with the paperwork, do the necessary research in the patent office, and handle other matters pertaining to the patent.

Question: How long does a patent last?

Answer: A patent lasts for seventeen years and may not be extended, except by a special act of congress.

A patent may be issued for an improvement on an idea or invention that already exists.

Question: What does "Patent Pending" mean?

Answer: Patent pending means that the application for the patent for the invention has been initiated but has not been issued awarded at this time. It gives constructive notice to others, who may have the same or a similar invention, to challenge the patent preceding in the patent office.

Question: What happens if someone uses my invention even though it is patented?

Answer: In the case of someone illegally using or selling your patented invention, your remedy is to take them to court, sue for damages, and and get an order prohibiting the further use of your invention.

Question: If I should die or become mentally incapable of filing for a patent on my invention, what happens?

Answer: If you should die or become mentally disabled before you apply for your patent or during the process, a guardian or a legal representative may file or complete your application package in your absence.

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