What is a Patent?

J.D. Harriman is an Intellectual Property Attorney for DLA Piper (www.dlapiper.com). In this video he speaks about what a patent is.

  1. A patent is a legal document that provides protection for an idea
  2. It provides a negative right, the right to stop others from making, using, or selling the invention.
  3. It is not a form, but an original writing that tells the story of the invention in a way that allows others to reproduce the invention.
  4. You must disclose the way an invention works in a patent application, no keeping secrets.

A lot of my clients ask me, what is a patent? Because they are told that they should protect their inventions. A patent is a legal document issued by the Federal Government in Washington, DC that provides protection for an idea.

The notion of patents is so important in this country and is so important right from the start that patents are specifically mentioned in the constitution.

A patent is, as I mentioned, is issued by the United States Patent Office in Washington, DC and its coverage extends to the borders of United States. A patent, however, does not give you the right to do anything. A patent only gives you the right to stop others from making, using or selling the patented invention.

So even if you were to get a patent, you might not be able to make the product that you have patented. It may be covered by other people’s patents, but it would give you the right to stop others from making, using, selling even importing the invention. You can extend your patent to the borders of the country and stop other people from bringing products in that would infringe your patent.

A patent is not a form. It’s something that is examined by the US Patent Office and that determination is made if the patent should issue. It’s an original writing, usually done with a patent attorney, although you can do it yourself, that tells the story of the invention in a way so that someone could make the invention using only the patent as a guide. You’re not required to describe every technical idea in science in your patent. You’re able to assume that someone knows a little bit about science or a little bit about your invention.

However, you are required to reveal everything that makes your invention work. You can’t keep any secrets when you communicate with a patent office. If you do, you run the risk of your patent being held invalid.

After the examination at the United States Patent Office, if they agree with you that patent should issue for your invention, a patent will issue and you will have the rights to stop others from using your invention for 20 years from your original filing date.

So if you think you have an idea, you should think about getting a patent for your idea.