Portfolio Development and Innovation

Design Patents Versus Utility Patents

Clients often ask about the differences between design and utility patents. The phrase “design patent” confuses some people because in everyday usage, the term “design” frequently connotes the structure, function, and properties of a product.  Not so with design patents. Design patents protect the “ornamental appearance” of an article of manufacture. Utility patents protect the…

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Patenting New Methods of Treatment Using Known Compositions

One question that comes up from time to time is whether you can get apatent on a new method of treatment (sometimes called a new “indication”) using an existing chemical composition.  The answer is “possibly.” If a chemical composition is known, you cannot obtain a patent to the chemical composition itself.  The US Court of…

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Why Do I Need All These Details to Get a Patent?

Lately we have been working some inventors who are newer to the patent process, and they are often concerned about providing details about the embodiments of their inventions. Their concern is that when we ask for this information, it means we are narrowing the scope of their invention.   However, that is not the case. We…

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It Takes a (Coordinated) Team Effort

Patentable inventions do not arise in a vacuum.  They usually arise in the context of a sales team trying to land an account, often with time constraints and the added pressure of trying to outflank a competitor.  The customer is telling the sales people what it wants, the technical team is trying to figure out…

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The Hazards of Joint Development

It is very common for companies to work with their customers or suppliers in developing products. For example, if you are a supplier, you may work with a customer to provide a component that fits and meets the needs of that customer’s products.  The auto industry is full of these types of interactions.  A supplier…

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Some Key Reasons to Conduct a Patentability Search

When we first meet with a client who is interested in getting a patent, we ask whether they have conducted a patentability search and whether they wish to do so before incurring the expense of preparing a patent application. Many are reluctant to do so because they think they “know” the market for their invention….

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Employees Who Assign Patent Rights to Employers May Have Standing to Challenge Omission as Inventors

Employers do not automatically obtain legal ownership of the patent rights to their employees’ inventions simply because of the employer-employee relationship.  Thus, it is a standard practice to require employees to assign their patent rights to their employers in an employment agreement.  This practice raises the following question: Can an employee (or ex-employee) file an…

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Patenting Improved Articles That Use Proprietary 3rd Party Materials

Under U.S. law, improved articles of manufacture may be patentable if they are novel and non-obvious. Sometimes, an inventor comes up with a new article that is faster, stronger, more flexible, more rigid, lighter, etc. by using new materials to make the article. If the article has never been made with those materials, and if…

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Have Your Cake and Eat It Too – Obtaining Broad Claims That Define a Device or Apparatus Based on How it Works

Pros and Cons of Apparatus and Method of Use Claims Devices or apparatuses can often be protected by using two kinds of patent claims: apparatus and method of use claims. Each approach has its benefits and drawbacks. In general, apparatus claims expand the class of direct infringers relative to method of use claims but are…

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Are You and Your Patent Attorney Challenging Each Other?

Since we have been living with managed medical care for some time, many people have become accustomed to the idea that they need to act as their own advocate when dealing with medical professionals.  Thus, we have become more comfortable with questioning our doctor’s opinions and the bases for them and with the idea that…

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