US Patent Service
A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor, issued by the US Patent Service. The term of a new patent is either 14 or 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States or, in special cases, from the date an earlier related application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees depending on the kind of patent. US Patent Service patent grants are effective only within the US, US territories, and US possessions. There are several requirements for an invention to be patentable which are enumerated below.
Conditions for Obtaining a Patent
1. Non-Obviousness - meaning that the technology must be different enough from the prior art in US Patent Service.
2. Novelty - meaning that the technology is not "anticipated" or identical to an invention disclosed in a single piece of prior art.
3. Non-Obviousness - meaning that the technology must be different enough from the prior art so as to not be obvious in view of the prior art.
4. Utility - meaning that the invention must have a useful purpose.
The novelty requirement of US patent service is often consider the entry test for patentability. When the US patent service examiner has made his/her initial patentability determination, the US patent service responds by sending the applicant what is known as an "Office Action" containing its determination and the reasons for it. If the Office Action contains a rejection of the claims and there exist arguable grounds for contesting the examiner's determination, one files a "Response," usually in the form of an Amendment. There are usually only two Office Actions and Responses before a final determination is made by the US patent service examiner as to the invention's patentability. If this determination is detrimental to the applicant's interests, it can be appealed - a time consuming and expensive process. Typical legal fees that apply for responding to Office Actions are $500.00 to $3,000.00, depending upon the complexity of the arguments.
The right conferred by the US Patent Service grant is, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. The US Patent Service grants a term of 20 years for a U.S. utility patent starting on the date on which the application for patent was filed. US Patent Service issued utility patents are subject to the payment of periodic maintenance fees which must be paid at intervals during the life of the patent. Failure to pay these fees results in the expiration of the patent.