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Steps to Filing a Patent Application
An idea by itself is not protectable. Ideas alone are not protected under intellectual property law. There are two primary ways that you would be able to sue the company for stealing your idea. The first is if you did, in fact, reduce the idea to a protectable form before telling the company about it.
Venture capital is a people business, so get it out of your mind that VCs are going to steal your idea. A venture capital firm that regularly shares your idea or plan with other entrepreneurs will not stay in business long. Eventually good entrepreneurs will not trust them. Plus VCs are investors, not operators.
In fact, your mobile app idea can be nicked by anyone who gets the slightest idea about it including your business consultants, developers working on your project and of course, by your competitors if the word gets to them. Well, many app entrepreneurs have learned the hard way; you don’t have to be one of them.
Here are four suggestions for how to protect a business idea as you share it with others like investors and colleagues.
However, patent lawyers are bound by ethics and professional responsibility requirements. Stealing an idea would be a serious breach of duty for a lawyer that can expose him or her to punishments from the bar, and the original inventor would likely be able to sue for theft.
Contrary to popular belief, a patent does not protect your technology from being infringed upon by a competitor. It merely affords you with legal recourse in the event that someone does.
The simple answer is “no’. A prototype is not required prior to filing a patent application with the U.S. Patent Office. While prototypes can be valuable in developing your invention, they can also be costly.
U. S. law provides you will lose your patent rights if you sell, offer for sale, publish, or publicly use your invention more than one year before filing a patent application on that invention.
Eventually, patents do expire. While a patent will remain in force for a period of time, eventually it is considered to be no longer in effect. The patented invention then becomes freely usable by others. Patent terms, if maintained correctly, vary but generally go for up to 20 years.
An expired patent no longer affords the inventor or patent owner any protection. When the patent expires, the concept becomes available for any organization or individual to freely use, redesign, and market without the original patent owner’s permission.
Extending Your Patent. Get a term adjustment. If you filed your patent after May 29, 2000 and your patent was delayed because the USPTO was taking longer than normal to process the paperwork, you may be eligible to file for an extension. The extension will cover the time lost from your patent term for the delay.
You can buy an expired patent by performing a patent search through the USPTO website (more on this later) and checking to see if the patent has expired. Once you find a patent that has expired and you want to buy, you can go ahead and contact the patent owner to negotiate purchasing the patent.
A patent may be enforced starting on the date it is issued by the USPTO (its “Issue Date”), and running for the length of its term, unless it expires earlier. After the patent expires, the invention is available to all. To determine if a patent is still in force, you will need access to the USPTO’s website.
It means the patent term has expired and the design patent is no longer effective. It does not mean that the design is in the public domain (although it likely would be) as it could be otherwise protected, e.g. by copyright.
To buy a particular patent, make the owner an offer. Whoever owns the patent has the legal right to sell it to you if your offer is good enough. If the owner is a business, you can negotiate to buy the company, acquiring the patent as one of the business assets. The site will identify the owner or owners.