Patents --

The following information about patents is general information about the US Patent system and is not legal advice which is given only to clients of the firm. Links are provided to pages at the US Patent and Trademark Office if additional general information is desired.

The US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues three types of patents: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. These patents are issued based on the filing of an application, and the process from filing to issuance can take years, depending on the type of patent applied for, and the subject matter being claimed.

Utility patents are the most common. These protect processes, machines, articles, chemical compositions. The patent is granted after a finding that the invention as claimed is new and not obvious over prior art, and that the disclosure is sufficient to support the patent claims.

The cost of preparing and filing a utility patent application depends on many factors including the complexity of the technology, and the amount of prior art that is considered during the preparation of the application. In general, when a law firm prepares an application, the cost in attorney fees is likely to exceed $5000 and may be substantially higher. In addition, there are government fees for the filing of the application which add an additional $500 or more. These costs are just for protection in the United States, and just for the filing of the application. The application process frequently involves consideration of and response to one or more official actions from the patent office. In addition, an issue fee is due when the application is allowed before the patent is actually granted. After the patent issues, the USPTO collects periodic maintenace fees that are required to keep the patent in force.