Patent Basics

A collection of resources on the fundamentals of patents and patent law

Why Are There Patents?

Summary of the policies behind patents and patent laws and the quid pro quo exchange of limited monopoly rights for disclosure of inventions.

What Are the Requirements for Patentability?

Overview of the three basic requirements for patentability: utility, novelty, and non-obviousness.

What is the Patent Filing Grace Period?

Explanation of the 1-year patent filing grace period in the USA.

What Are Claims?

Explanation of what claims are in patents and patent applications and their significance in patent law.

What is an Office Action?

Explanation of what patent “office actions” are and how they arise during patent prosecution (examination).

How Should I Prepare an Invention Disclosure?

Sample invention disclosure forms in multiple formats, plus an explanation of the reasons for preparing an invention disclosure when patenting a new invention.

What is the On-Sale Bar?

In-depth discussion of activities by an inventor/applicant that can create a bar to his or her own patent application in the U.S. Also discusses potential exceptions.

When Should a Provisional Patent Application Be Considered?

Guidance about the pros and cons of filing a provisional patent application. Includes a discussion of best practices and common errors.

When Should a Patentability Search Be Performed?

Best practices for timing the completion of a patentability search.

How Can I Determine Entity Size Status for Patent Fees?

Summary of the requirements to qualify for large (undiscounted), small, and micro entity fee status for U.S. patents and patent applications.

What Are the Costs to Obtain a Patent?

Overview of categories of costs to obtain a patent, and to maintain it. Provides general guidance for budgeting and requesting a cost estimate from a patent attorney.

What Types of Patents and Patent Applications are Available?

Overview of the different types of patents and patent applications, and an explanation of the different between an application and a granted patent.

How Should Patent Marking Be Used?

Concise overview of how to properly mark patented products in the United States. Discusses patent marking legal standards and the basic practical requirements.

What Are the Ways to Challenge a Granted Patent?

Overview of the various ways the validity or patentability of a granted U.S. patent can be challenged.

What is Prosecution History Estoppel?

Discussion of prosecution history estoppel under U.S. patent law, including how it arises and how it can potentially limit patent enforcement under the Doctrine of Equivalents.

What is a Design Patent?

Overview of design patents, and how they differ from other types of patents and foreign registrations.

What is the Timeline for a PCT Application?

Overview and summary graphic explaining the timeline and deadlines for a typical PCT international patent application up to national phase entry (NPE).

What is a Restriction Requirement?

Explanation of restriction practice for U.S. patent applications with claims to independent and distinct inventions. Includes a link to further information about related requirements for elections of species.

How Can I Calculate Patent Term?

Overview of how to calculate the term of a given U.S. patent, which varies and is not the same for all patents.

Is Functional Language Permitted in Patent Claims?

Explains when functional language is and is not acceptable in patent claims, including the special treatment of means-plus-function recitations.

What Is Prior Art?

Explanation of what the term “prior art” means and how it is used in patent law.

What Types of Patent Infringement Are Possible?

Overview of the types of activities that constitute infringement of a U.S. patent. Discusses direct and indirect infringement, as well as literal infringement and infringement under the Doctrine of Equivalents.

What Exclusive Rights Does a Patent Provide?

Explanation of the exclusive rights that arise from patents and a common misconception about the scope of patent rights.

What Is a Published Patent Application?

Overview of what a published patent application is and how it differs from a granted patent.

Need assistance with a patent, trademark, or other IP issue?

Contact Austen Zuege, an IP attorney who can help.