Where business and IP law come together
What is a patent?
What does “patent pending” mean?
What is a “patent search,” and can I do one myself?
When should I file a patent application?
What is the difference between a Provisional and Non-provisional patent application, and can I file a patent application myself?
What is “patent prosecution”?
What might prevent me from obtaining a patent?
Are there strategies I can use to better protect my invention, expedite the patent process, or save money?
How long will my patent last?
Can my patent be renewed?
How long does it take to get a patent?
About Sheri Higgins Law
How much does it cost?
Can Sheri Higgins Law represent clients outside of Texas?
Can Sheri Higgins Law represent clients outside the United States?
Can Sheri Higgins Law assist with patent prosecution?
A patent is a right granted by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) allowing an individual or entity to stop others from making, using, or selling an invention in the United States for a limited period of time. Utility patents include the functional aspects of machines, methods, compositions (e.g., chemicals) and improvements on all of these. Design patents are for the appearance of an object only and do not cover the construction or function of that object. It is possible to apply for a utility and design patent on the same invention.
“Patent pending” means that a patent application is on file at the USPTO. A “patent pending” mark puts people and companies on notice that an application has been filed, and might reduce the risk of infringement. (Note: it is against the law to mark a product “patent pending” if an application is not on file.)
A patent search (also called a “prior art search”) is a process of canvasing already-filed patent applications and previously issued patents to ensure an invention similar or identical to yours isn’t already protected. You can do preliminary searches on USPTO.gov and Google Patents on your own, but understand that–while these are great places to start—the library of patents is extensive (around nine million patents have been granted) and experienced professionals have more expertise at patent terminology and key word searches in addition to analyzing the results of such a search. Paying for a professional prior art search with a qualified law firm is a great way to find out if your idea is already patented, which can save you money long-term.
You should file your patent application as soon as possible. Passage of the America Invents Act changed patent law from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file system. This means that even though you may have conceived of your invention before someone else thought of it, it is the person who first files their application that wins. Therefore, it is essential that if you have invented something, you should take steps to get a patent application on file as soon as possible.
A Provisional patent application can be thought of as a placeholder application and can be used in the new first-to-file system as a way to get an application on file at the USPTO. It outlines the broad concepts of the invention and allows an inventor time to flesh out the specific details of an invention or determine marketability. A Provisional application is not examined by the USPTO. A Non-provisional patent application must be filed no later than one year from the filing date of the Provisional application.
Yes, you can prepare and file an application yourself- including a provisional application. However, for the broadest and best protection, it is recommended to use a law firm with vast experience in preparing, filing, and prosecuting both kinds of patent applications.
When a patent application is filed, the USPTO conducts its own prior art search to ensure someone else hasn’t already filed a patent application related to your invention. If the USPTO finds an issued patent, patent application, or other disclosure that is the same as, or similar to, your patent application, it will issue an “Office Action,” which will allege that you are not entitled to patent your invention. Patent prosecution is the process between your patent attorney and the USPTO where your attorney will argue for the uniqueness and patentability of your invention.
If you’re considering describing your invention in a printed publication, putting it in public use, selling it or offering it for sale, or otherwise making it known to the public anywhere in the world, it can completely bar you from obtaining a patent. It is advisable to speak with a qualified patent attorney before undertaking any of these activities to make sure you are protected.
Yes. A highly experienced law firm will provide strategic planning based on your individual objectives. Strategic planning can be used to speed up the patent process in the United States and worldwide and even save you money.
Utility patents have an effective lifespan of 20 years from the date of filing (and design patents last for 15 years). Because protection of your patent begins on the application filing date, it’s important that your patent is filed as quickly as possible. To ensure fast filing, select a law firm with extensive patent prosecution experience and the capability to devote personal care in handling your patent application.
No. Once a patent expires, it becomes public domain and anyone can make, use, or sell your invention.
You should budget at least 18 months to receive an issued patent or an Office Action after an application has been filed. It is best to select a law firm with extensive patent prosecution experience that can work with the USPTO to get your patent issued as quickly as possible.
A trademark is a word, phrase, logo, symbol, or design – or a combination of these – used to distinguish goods and services from others.
A trademark search is a process of canvasing already-filed applications and previously granted trademarks to ensure one similar or identical to yours isn’t already protected. You can do preliminary searches on USPTO.gov and Google on your own, but understand that–while these are great places to start—the library of trademarks is extensive and experienced professionals have more expertise at trademark terminology and key word searches. Paying for a professional prior art search with a qualified law firm is a great way to find out if your trademark is already registered, which can save you money long-term.
Yes. You are not required to be an attorney to file a trademark application. However, it may be less time consuming and you may acquire broader protection if you hire an experienced attorney who has gone through the application process many times to avoid the risk of errors.
Trademark registrations are valid for 10 years and can be renewed over and over as long as you’re still using the mark. You (or your attorney) are responsible for keeping track of renewals so they don’t lapse.
Once you apply, it generally takes six months to a year (and sometimes longer) to receive your trademark registration certificate from the USPTO. However, your trademark protection begins on the day you file, not on the day of issue. You can use your trademark while you are waiting for approval.
About Sheri Higgins Law
Sheri Higgins Law charges all clients on a flat fee basis so there is never any question of how much a project will cost in the end. Sheri Higgins Law works with all its clients to find a flat fee that fits within their budgets, oftentimes costing less than other patent law firms. If you are looking for a law firm with fancy offices that wind up passing that cost off on you, then Sheri Higgins Law is not the right law firm for you. However, if you are looking for a highly experienced law firm that provides individualized services to each client and works with you within your budget, then Sheri Higgins Law is right for you.
Yes. Our patent attorneys are licensed with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO), which allows us to represent clients nationwide.
Yes. Many companies wish to file an application in the United States. We can file applications directly in the US as a first filing and also file secondary applications that claim priority to an application from another country or a Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application.
Yes. Sheri Higgins Law handles patent prosecution, even if we did not draft and file your original patent application. Selecting a law firm that is effective in patent prosecution can decrease the time it takes to obtain an issued patent and can increase the length of your patent term. Some law firms may be great at drafting and filing a patent application, but have little or no experience with patent prosecution. Selecting a firm with expertise in drafting, filing, and prosecution — with countless applications that have been issued as patents to back that up–will ensure your rights and the invention you’ve worked so hard on are best protected.