Preserve the Confidentiality of Your Invention! Since an invention cannot be patented (except under some limited circumstances) if it is "described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public," inventors should avoid these missteps by themselves or others prior to thoroughly investigating their intellectual property rights and possibly consulting with an IP attorney. (35 U.S.C. sec. 102)
Beware Patent & Trademark Scams! Unethical and dishonest individuals may solicit inventors for payments with a false or misleading promise of trademarks, patents, or promotions of a product. Read information about scam prevention from the USPTO and see examples of deceptive solicitations sent by non-USPTO entities
Types of Intellectual Property
Different types of "intellectual property" are protected using different techniques. Consider the nature of the idea you're researching to decide which technique(s) are appropriate.
There are three kinds of patents:
Additional information at http://www.uspto.gov/patents/index.jsp
What kinds of ideas can be patented?
According to federal law, patentable inventions include:
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 (Design Patent) or (2) asexually reproduced plant varieties
Some things which cannot be patented:
The invention must also be
What are patent rights?
A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor. Patents are granted for new, useful and non-obvious inventions for a period of 20 years from the filing date of a patent application, and provide the right to exclude others from exploiting the invention during that period. U.S. patents are issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Generally, the term of a new patent is 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. The right conferred by the patent 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 for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention when the patent is granted.
Patents are territorial, meaning that one must apply for patent protection in each country where protection is sought. In other words, U.S. patent grants are effective only within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions.
The Inventors Assistance Center (IAC) at the USPTO provides patent information and services to the public. The IAC is staffed by former Supervisory Patent Examiners and experienced Primary Examiners who answer general questions concerning patent examining policy and procedure.
Official United States Patent and Trademark Office records are published in English. Introductory video programs are available online in other languages as noted below. If you are not fluent in English, you may benefit from the assistance of a bilingual professional Patent Attorney or Patent Agent (see USPTO list of Registered Patent Attorneys and Agents).
Geographical Indication (GI) (Trademarks)
International Standards for Intellectual Property Enforcement