Patent Law

Patent Attorneys and Patent Law

What is a patent?

A patent is the grant of a property right for an invention issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Patent owners have “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.

In the U.S., patentable subject matter includes any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. Patentable subject matter must be also novel and non obvious when compared to previously known inventions.

Riley Pope & Laney’s patent attorneys are trained in engineering and business, in addition to being admitted to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office as attorneys.

What are the steps in the patent process?

The USPTO website has an excellent step by step guide including information on the following:

Determine the type of Intellectual Property protection that you need. Do you need a patent, a trademark, a copyright or do you need to protect your trade secrets or a combination of the above?

Determine whether your invention is patentable. Note that a patent may be applied for only in the name(s) of the actual inventor(s). First you must know what can and cannot be patented:

What can be patented – utility patents are provided for a new, nonobvious and useful: process, machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter, or an improvement of any of the above (Note: In addition to utility patents, encompassing one of the categories above, patent protection is available for (1) ornamental design of an article of manufacture or (2) asexually reproduced plant varieties by design and plant patents.)

What cannot be patented – laws of nature, physical phenomena, abstract ideas, literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works (these can be Copyright protected). Nor inventions which are not useful (such as perpetual motion machines); or offensive to public morality

Note: Inventions must be Novel, Nonobvious, Adequately described or enabled (for one of ordinary skill in the art to make and use the invention) and Claimed by the inventor in clear and definite terms.

How do I know if my invention is patentable?

After performing the above steps, you must then search to see if your invention has already been publicly disclosed as you cannot get a patent if your invention has already been publicly disclosed. In addition to a thorough search of all previous public disclosures, a search of foreign patents and printed publications should also be conducted. If you are not experienced in performing patent searches, our registered patent attorneys may perform a search for you.

Determine what kind of patent you need: There are three types of patents – Utility, Design, and Plant.

Utility patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or compositions of matters, or any new useful improvement thereof. By far, most patent applications filed at the USPTO are utility applications.

Design patents may be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.

Plant patents may be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

Your patent application is then completely prepared and submitted it to the patent office along with the required filing fees.

Your application is next reviewed by a USPTO patent examiner.

Once approved by an examiner and you receive your approval you will receive a notice of allowance. After the payment of issuance fees, your patent grant will be mailed on the issue date.

Once you receive your patent, it is important to maintain your patent protection. It is important to note that maintenance fees are required to maintain a patent in force beyond 4, 8, and 12 years after the issue date for utility and reissue utility patents. If the maintenance fee and any applicable surcharge are not paid in a timely manner, the patent will expire.

How much is this going to cost?

The cost of a patent application will be determined by a number of considerations:

How complex is your invention?
Do you need international protection?
Do you need expedited service?
Do you want to file a provisional or nonprovisional application?

Riley Pope & Laney attorneys will work with you to best answer these questions and provide sound business counsel to provide the maximum protection benefits for your invention and, if applicable, your business. Fees will apply for a patent search, professional patent drawings, possible additional claims, and USPTO filing, issuance and maintenance fees.

Riley Pope & Laney Charleston based patent attorneys seek to be cost effective for clients. B.C. “Bill” Killough and Ernest “Lip” Lipscomb have many years of experience in filing and prosecuting patent applications, and are nationally recognized for their achievements and authorship and teaching in the field of patent law, yet our fees are frequently lower than those of attorneys at larger firms.

How long does it take to get a patent?

Generally obtaining a patent will take anywhere from one to five years depending on the type and complexity of patent application. Our patent attorneys will be able to better determine a timeline after an initial consultation with you to discuss your specific matter.

Who we are and How we can help:

Riley Pope & Laney’s Registered Patent Attorneys B.C. Killough and Ernest Lipscomb provide legal services, counseling and representation in the highly specialized and regulated areas of Patent law. Killough and Lipscomb’s 90+ combined years working in this area of the law translates to hundreds of patent applications filed and prosecuted in both the U.S. and foreign countries with experience with contested proceedings in the European Patent Office as well as litigation in US District Court and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Killough and Lipscomb have a reputation as leaders in the patent field in South Carolina and are both former adjunct professors for the Patent Law course at the University of South Carolina School of Law, as well as engineering graduates, yet another testament to the fact that these gentlemen have the ability to discuss the intricacies of inventions with engineers, chemists, researchers and scientists, and relate that information to the layperson sitting in a classroom…or to a patent examiner not familiar with a particular field…or in litigation: to a jury.

Ernest “Lip” Lipscomb literally “wrote the book” on Patent Law for many years: Lipscomb’s Walker on Patents (11 volumes) and Lipscomb’s Patent Claims (4 volumes).
B.C. “Bill” Killough is a monthly contributor providing patent case summaries to the Federal Circuit Bar Association’s Circuit Case Digest. In addition, he is South Carolina’s contributor to Thomson Reuters’ Practical Law, Intellectual Property and Technology.

Both Killough and Lipscomb are supported by a team of Riley Pope & Laney attorneys who take client services seriously, working to advance each individual client’s business goals in the most efficient, cost effective, manner possible. Our areas of practice include a broad range of technologies to include:
• Mechanical
• Computer Technology
• Chemical
• Pharmaceutical
• Biotechnology
• Medical Devices
• Information Technology
• Electromechanical Devices
• And more.

Other resources and related areas:

USPTO Patent FAQs
Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights – what’s the difference?
Patent infringement and patent litigation
Intellectual property
Trademark law
Trade Secrets
Mediation