FAQs About Patents
FAQ: How long does a patent application take?
The typical time to obtain a patent in the U.S. is 2.5 to 3.5 years, but it can be as much as 7 years and as little as 12 months with certain types. Much of that time is spent waiting to be examined. You have 3 months to respond once the examiner contacts you.
FAQ: What can be patented in biotechnology?
Laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas are excluded. Biotechnology falls under the patent criterion of “manufacture or composition of matter.” What is included has become increasingly complex. The Supreme Court has ruled on many emerging technologies in recent years, especially for technologies related to the laws of nature exclusion. For example, the USPTO rejected an application to patent chimeras created for medical research by fusion of embryonic human and animal cells and the Supreme Court upheld the decision.
FAQ: Should I include drawings in my patent application?
Drawings are often important. They may include gel images, graphs, tables, schematics. Include written descriptions of them, too. If you are creating a device, good quality drawings are important.
FAQ: What if my claim is rejected by the examiner?
Rejection of a claim initially is fairly common. You can discuss the problem with the examiner to see if there is a way to resolve it. Potential reasons include:
- Too broad a claim, overlapping with someone else’s invention or, prior art. Consider whether your invention would still work if you modified it, narrowing your specifications slightly to avoid overlap. You can apply to broaden or narrow a patent after it is issued if needed.
- A claim that is already known or obvious.
- A previous publication contributed to or enabled your invention. To avoid this problem, it is best to consult with attorneys before publishing research that could lead to an invention and potential patent application.
FAQ: Does the government own my IP if they fund my research?
The government cannot share your reports or data with anyone outside of the federal government for 20 years.
What is the difference between a patent and a license?
A patent does not give the right to use the invention. It allows you, the inventor, to prevent others from using the invention. A license or other legal permission from the university or other owner grants you the right to use an invention that you do not own.