The short answer is no. You can easily file online with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. But the simplest answer isn’t always the best.
There is a lot one needs to know before attempting to file a patent to prevent rejection or losing your rights.
What Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks Are
Patents generally grant the inventor the property right to that invention or discovery. These can include manufacturing processes, designs, and varieties of plants. Whoever holds the patent has the right to prevent others from making, selling, and distributing whatever the invention or discovery is.
Patent laws were written to protect inventors and to encourage them to share their knowledge and progress with the world by granting them a temporary monopoly over that product or discovery.
Patent law also clarifies what is considered in the public domain and how subsequent discoveries, such as in technology or medicine, are handled under the U.S. patent law.
Trademarks are popularly associated with brands. They include designs, logos, names, words, or even devices that distinguish a product or item from another.
Trademarks are used to protect the integrity of the brand, so marks, designs, or logos that are similar enough to cause confusion among consumers are investigated to see if any trademark laws have been broken.
Copyrights protect an author’s original piece of writing. Popular examples include books, scripts, musical lyrics and can also include images.
There are a lot of misconceptions and false information about copyrights that gets disseminated among people who enjoy photography or writing screenplays, and lore of copyright cases. Before trusting that email time stamps will save you in court you will want to check with a qualified legal professional.
What Can a Patent Attorney Do
A patent attorney can help you prepare, file and prosecute your patent application and also provide patentability opinions.
Not everyone is an attorney but a lot of people feel quite confident after reading a few articles about how to file. However, there is still some preparation required before submitting.
Patent writing is a very detailed and technical field of legal writing. At the very least if you are writing your own patent then you will want a patent law attorney checking it before you submit.
Collaborations are generally considered either joint works or derivative works. Have you worked with a collaborator? If so, then did you have a formal agreement with each other? Ideas and concepts are not protected, only the executions or tangible expression are, so disputes can arise from disagreements over who is to be credited for what.
In derivative works another author can acquire the rights of another work for the purposes of updating, adapting, or enhancing it in some other way.
Another option that a patent attorney can go over with you is filing a provisional application. These are less expensive to file and are generally associated with the term “patent pending” and can be useful for inventors looking for financial backing to appeal to investors. After the 12-month period the claim is abandoned unless a non-provisional application is filed.
Filing a patent is also subject to meeting certain criteria. The last thing you want is to have your claim denied because of a misunderstanding of the requirements. An experienced and competent attorney, such as The Patent Professor, will not only be well-versed in the law but will understand and support your entrepreneurial and creative goals.