Many business owners and entrepreneurs may wonder how a Chicago, IL patent lawyer can contribute to their success. A skilled patent lawyer in Chicago, IL understands that a key component in that success is protecting all intellectual property. At the Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian, we have successfully obtained countless patents for clients and we know how important it is for an inventor to have that legal protection.

Whether your invention is an item or a design, a patent granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will bar others from producing, using, or selling your invention. According to the federal statute that oversees patents, any person who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent.”

Getting a Patent

Congratulations! You’ve developed a new product or invention. Now it’s time to file for a patent to protect your product. The process is long – not just the number of pages for the application but the wait to hear if it was approved could be up to two years. Why doesn’t your patent last forever? Why do patents expire? In this article, we’ll explain why that patent you worked so hard to achieve will expire. 

What is a patent?

A patent is legal protection for your invention or intellectual property. It is a limited set of rights to the owner of that patent in exchange for disclosing their invention to the public. It also gives the patent holder financial rights to their product and the right to sue if they believe someone is infringing on their patent. It doesn’t give them the right to be the only one to use the product, it just gives them the right to prevent anyone else from making it and making a profit off it.

A patent is specific to products and inventions. If you are looking to protect other intellectual property like literary works (books, plays, art, music) or if you are looking to protect logos, slogans, and taglines for your business, you would need to file for a copyright and trademark respectively. 

The Patent Process

An experienced patent lawyer in Chicago, Illinois can explain just how complicated the patent process can be. As with many legal issues, there is a strict procedure that must be followed; failure to follow the procedure could result in having your patent denied. This is why it is critical to have the assistance of a Chicago, IL patent lawyer from the Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian in obtaining your patent.

Once you have consulted with your attorney, they may conduct an extensive search to make sure there is not another patent that exists for your invention. Your attorney may also conduct a search for any foreign patents.

After it has been determined that no other patents exist for your invention, your Chicago, IL patent lawyer may determine what type of patent you need. The three classifications are:

  • Utility – granted for a process, machine, manufacture article, or composition matter.
  • Design – granted for any new or original design.
  • Plant – granted for the discovery or invention and asexual reproduction of a new plant.

Your attorney will then draft the application and send it to the USPTO. If the USPTO requires any communication regarding your application, your attorney may also handle that for you.

An Illinois patent lawyer from the Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian may also help with other intellectual property services, including:

  • Patent and software patent prosecution
  • Patent search
  • Foreign patent protection
  • Reissue patent
  • Supplemental examination
  • Preissuance submission
  • Ex parte reexamination
  • Patent post grant review
  • Patent post grant inter partes review
  • Appeals to the PTAB (Patent Trial and Appeal Board)
  • Trade secrets
  • Copyrights
  • Cyber law

Why do patents expire?

Patents expire for a variety of reasons. A design patent (or a patent on the aspects of the invention) expires after 14 years while a utility patent (a patent on the way you use your invention) expires after 20 years. 

The main reason patents expire is to encourage innovation. If every idea was protected forever, there would be no way for improvement or for other people to build upon that invention. The US Patent and Trademark Office understand that technology changes over the years and the way you use something in 1990 may not be the same way you use it in 2010 (think your cell phone).

Another reason patents expire is to encourage competition within the market. While it may seem unfair to the person holding the patent, competition is good for the economy. Consumers don’t want one company or person to hold the keys to certain products for eternity. So competition allows for the revenue to be spread out among numerous brands as well as creativity and innovation. 

Some more practical reasons patents expire is due to negligence on the part of the patent holder. Patents come with maintenance fees and if you don’t pay your maintenance fees your patent will expire. They generally give you a six-month grace period, but once that has come and gone, you will lose your patent. However, if the missed payment was an accident, you can always revive your patent by paying the maintenance fee. 

So while yes, patents do expire, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Make sure you keep an eye on all the due dates for fees or expiration dates so you don’t unintentionally lose your rights. 

Contact a Chicago, IL Patent Lawyer Today

If you need help applying for a patent, or if you need any other intellectual property assistance, call The Law Offices of Konrad Sherinian. Attorney Sherinian has an extensive litigation and intellectual property background, and has authored multiple articles and made numerous presentations to various industry groups on intellectual property and litigation. Attorney Sherinian is also a prior co-chair of the ABA’s Inequitable Conduct Subcommittee.

Contact a seasoned Chicago, IL patent lawyer today at 312 981 5004, or fill out a contact form on our website.

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