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What is a Patent?

Society changes with each passing day. Looking back in history, you can clearly see that the America of 1915 is vastly different than the America of 2015. Unfortunately, as society advances, so does criminal activity, such as theft. No longer is theft performed with a black suit and mask with a sack slung over your shoulder. Theft spread to one of the monumental foundations of human communication--the Internet.

In 2015, criminals can steal hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of money or property in as little as a few clicks. Intellectual Property (IP), the legal term for ideas owned by individuals, is especially vulnerable to Internet theft. The U.S. Government has implemented several forms of IP protection to curb and prevent criminals from stealing ideas from their rightful owners. One of these IP protections is a patent, designed specifically for inventors, engineers, and similar professions. In order to arm yourself and protect your ideas from theft, you should understand what a patent is and what rights it grants you as a creator.

What does a patent do?

A patent is essentially an official seal from the U.S. Government that recognizes your legal ownership of your creation. However, unlike a copyright, which grants legal ownership to literary and artistic ideas, a patent is designed specifically for inventions. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), there are currently 3 types of patents: a utility patent, for anyone who “invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof”; a design patent, for inventors who create “a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture”; and a plant patent, which may grant a scientist who “invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant”.

What rights does a patent grant me?

The USTPO also outlines the rights granted to the owner of the patent: “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”. In other words, this means that the UTSPO is not giving you the right to manufacture your creation; instead, they are giving you the right to exclude others from manufacturing your creation without your permission.

How long does a patent last?

According to the USTPO, a patent lasts 20 years after it was initially filed with the U.S. Government. After that, the patent is said to expire, and you will need to renew your patent to extend your rights. U.S. patents are only valid inside the United States.

What should I do if someone steals my idea?
Contact Colley & Colley immediately. As experienced law professionals, we bring years of knowledge and skill to pursue legal action and fight for the compensation you deserve. You will not have to pay a single penny until we win your case. For more information and  free consultation, contact Colley & Colley in Tyler, Texas today.