According to one study, there were 13,889 self-employed individuals in Las Vegas between 2012 and 2016. Some of those people were inventors selling new products or services, and part of the reason for this is the thriving economy. With so much opportunity for entrepreneurs in Las Vegas, there’s a demand for patents. If you’re considering a patent, there are a few things you should know. This FAQ for a patent in Las Vegas help explain the basics of patent law. You can also speak to a professional at the Patent Professor to get more information.

What Does a Patent Do?

The patent is a legal form of protection issued by the government. It’s a grant that gives you and you alone rights to make, use, or sell an invention. Once you have a patent, you have exclusive rights to your product or service. As a result, you can eliminate competition and ensure that no one takes your hard work and profits from it. Although the patent does protect you, there needs to be some monitoring. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is not responsible for stopping people who are violating your patent. Instead, you need to catch them in the act. Once you do, your patent allows you to take legal action against them.

How Many Different Patents are There?

If you want to successfully apply for a patent, you need to choose the right one. There are three basic types of patents. First, there’s a utility patent. This is one of the more common patent types. It covers new products, methods, machines, and even chemicals. For a successful utility patent, the invention needs to be new or a new improvement on a previous invention. The second type is a design patent. If you want to protect the appearance of your invention, you can file for this type of protection. The patent only keeps the appearance safe. If you want to protect the function or use of your invention, you need a utility patent. Lastly, you can apply for a plant patent. This is only for plants that do not already exist. If you invent a new plant and asexually produce it, you can seek this type of patent.

Is a Patent Permanent?

It’s important to note that your patent does not last forever. In fact, it could only last 14 or 15 years. The length of your patent depends on when you filed for it and the type of patent you have. For instance, most utility and plant patents last for 20 years. There are some exceptions, and those exceptions depend on the date of your application. Design patents are for a shorter length of time. Typically, this type of patent only offers 14 or 15 years of protection. Although the patent doesn’t kick in until the Patent Office approves it, the countdown to your patent’s expiration begins at the time of your application. After it expires, you lose your sole rights to the invention. Anyone can produce, use, or sell your invention. There isn’t an option for renewing your patent. However, there is a way in which you may be able to extend a patent. It’s rare but can happen in some situations. Typically, an extension is only possible if the government delayed the production or sale of your invention. This is usually the case with drugs. The FDA could take years to approve a drug, which would delay the inventor from profiting.

Are There Any Requirements for Patents?

As you might expect, there are a few requirements for patents. You can only receive a patent if your invention is all of the following:

1. Novel

It’s impossible to patent something that already has a patent. Although it might have a different name or some slight differences from your invention, the original patent remains intact. Even if the original invention has an expired patent, you cannot patent your idea. For this reason, you need to go through a patent search. Doing so lets you know if there are any similar patents in the registry. If there are, you need to go back to the drawing board. Because there are so many patents to search, people often work with professionals. A patent attorney in Las Vegas has the experience necessary to do a thorough search. They can determine whether or not your patent is novel.

2. Useful

There is such thing as a non-useful invention. And if you have one, you can’t seek a patent. There must be a clear purpose or use for your invention to be patentable.   Typically, this is an easy requirement to meet. The only inventions that don’t meet this criterion are usually gene sequences and some chemical compounds.

3. Non-Obvious

If someone with an average level of skill could come up with your invention, you won’t receive a patent. It needs to be non-obvious.

What Happens During the Patent Process?

Much like all government processes, the patent process is very specific. For some, it starts with speaking to an attorney. A legal professional can guide you through the process and improve your chances at a positive outcome. For others, the process begins with a patent search. This is something you should do before you apply for a patent. If there’s an existing patent similar to yours, you have no chance at approval. To avoid wasting your time on an application that has no chance, you should begin with a patent search. Some people do the search on their own, while others hire a professional. In either case, you need to be sure the search is thorough. If there are no existing patents, you can move on to the application. You must fill out the application in entirety. In the paperwork, you need to give details about your invention. It should explain how your invention works, what makes it useful, and what it will look like. As soon as you file the patent, it is in the status of “patent pending.” The patent office will prohibit anyone else from seeing your application for 18 months. In that time, they will either approve your application or send it back to you. If they send a notice of denial to you, there’s a chance to change the outcome. In the notice, the patent office will explain why the application was not approved. You may be able to update the application to make it more accurate. However, you cannot add new information to it without reapplying for the patent. But you can’t just reapply. You need to file a continuity application.

Do You Need a Patent Attorney?

It’s not required that you work with a patent attorney. However, it is recommended. The population of Las Vegas was about 623,747 in 2016. With such a high population, the city makes it hard to keep a secret. You need to work quickly to protect a great invention. Here at the Patent Professor, we can explain more about the patent process. In fact, we can get you started on your path to a patent. Contact us today to learn more.

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