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A patent protects a patentable new and useful invention or design from others making, using or selling it without paying for permission to do so.

Earning a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is a complicated process that is beyond the scope and knowledge of most inventors, so properly executing a patent application is difficult without professional help.

Should I Hire a Patent Attorney?

Yes. Making a successful patent application requires the expertise of an attorney who specializes in patent law. The PTO also requires a patent attorney to have specialized qualifications and a patent lawyer must pass a test, called the “patent bar,” before they are registered to represent clients in the patent process.

What Can a Patent Attorney Do for Me?

Generally, a patent attorney will handle the steps to secure a patent for you, and challenge the a government decision denying a patent application, and protecting your rights as the inventor of a patented product.

The first thing a patent attorney does is conduct the necessary patent search to ensure someone else has not earned a patent for your invention or design.

If no one has patented your invention or design, your patent attorney will advise you if it is advisable to file a provisional patent application. This permits you to secure an early filing date if your invention or design is not quite finished.

If your invention or design is in its early stages, your patent attorney can comply with the PTO’s “Document Disclosure Program,” which is accepted as evidence of when your patent application was filed. But it does not provide patent protection.

When your invention or design is finished, your patent attorney will complete the patent application and file it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The PTO will perform an examination, called a “prosecution” of your application. This step is confidential. The public does not participate nor does the public know the details of your patent application. The examiner informs your attorney of the prosecution’s conclusion, usually asking for a clarification, and your patent attorney responds.

If your application is denied, your patent attorney can file an “opposition” arguing why the patent should be approved.

After the PTO issues your patent , your patent attorney can handle your periodic maintenance fees to keep your patent in force. Patents for designs do not require maintenance fees.

If someone violates your patent, your patent attorney can sue the violator.

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