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Guide To Patenting And USPTO Patent Applications

What Are Patent Rights and What Does Patent Ownership Mean?

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When an inventor is granted a patent the following will arrive in mail; your US patent will be issued in the name of the United States under the seal of the Patent and Trademark Office, and will be signed by either the Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks or bear his/her name and have the signature of an US Patent Office official. The patent contains a grant to the patentee. A printed copy of the specification and drawing is annexed to the patent and forms a part of it.

What Rights Does A Patent Grant

The grant confers "the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States" and its territories and possessions for which the term of the patent shall be 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or (if the application contains a specific reference to an earlier filed patent application) from the date of the earliest such application was filed. However, you have to pay your maintenance fees.

Watch The Wording

Patent law can be tricky, the key is in the words "right to exclude". The patent does not grant the right to make, use, offer for sale or sell or import the invention but only grants the exclusive nature of the right. Any person is ordinarily free to make, use, offer for sale or sell or import anything he/she pleases, and a grant from the US Government is not necessary. The patent only grants the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale or selling or importing the invention.

Since the patent does not grant the right to make, use, offer for sale, or sell, or import the invention, the patentee’s own right to do so is dependent upon the rights of others and whatever general laws might be applicable.

A Patent Does Not Give Unlimited Rights

A patentee, merely because he/she has received a patent for an invention, is not thereby authorized to make, use, offer for sale, or sell, or import the invention if doing so would violate any law. An inventor of a new automobile who has obtained a patent thereon would not be entitled to use the patented automobile in violation of the laws of a State requiring a license, nor may a patentee sell an article, the sale of which may be forbidden by a law, merely because a patent has been obtained.

Neither may a patentee make, use, offer for sale, or sell, or import his/her own invention if doing so would infringe the prior rights of others. A patentee may not violate the Federal antitrust laws, such as by resale price agreements or entering into combination in restraints of trade, or the pure food and drug laws, by virtue of having a patent.

Ordinarily there is nothing which prohibits a patentee from making, using, offering for sale, or selling, or importing his/her own invention, unless he/she thereby infringes another’s patent which is still in force.

Correction of Granted Patents

The Office may issue without charge a certificate correcting a clerical error it has made in the patent when the printed patent does not correspond to the record in the Office. These are mostly corrections of typographical errors made in printing. Some minor errors of a typographical nature made by the applicant may be corrected by a certificate of correction for which a fee is required. The patentee may disclaim (and try to remove) one or more claims of his/her patent by filing in the Office a disclaimer.

When the patent is defective in certain respects, the law provides that the patentee may apply for a reissue patent. This is a patent granted to replace the original and is granted only for the balance of the unexpired term. However, the nature of the changes that can be made by means of the reissue are rather limited; new matter cannot be added.

Any person may file a request for reexamination of a patent, along with the required fee, on the basis of prior art consisting of patents or printed publications. At the conclusion of the reexamination proceedings, a certificate setting forth the results of the reexamination proceeding is issued.

Patent Expiration

After the patent has expired anyone may make, use, offer for sale or sell or import the invention without permission of the patentee, provided that matter covered by other unexpired patents is not used. The terms may be extended for certain pharmaceuticals and for certain circumstances as provided by law.

Next - Patent licensing and assignments

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