Practice Areas / Patent Law
Ference & Associates’ patent attorneys work with clients ranging from large global companies with significant patent portfolios to ambitious startup companies looking to protect their assets as they grow. Our attorneys have backgrounds in a wide range of industries and disciplines from technology to chemical to mechanical engineering. The Ference team appears as counsel on nearly 1,200 issued U.S. patents and can assist you with all aspects of the patent process.
What is a Patent?
A patent is a form of legal protection for intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention.
Issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor. The term of a patent generally lasts 20 years from the date on which the application for the patent was filed in the United States. In special cases, the term can last from the date an earlier application was filed, subject to the payment of maintenance fees.
U.S. patent grants are only effective within the United States, U.S. territories, and U.S. possessions. Patent term extensions or adjustments may be available under certain circumstances.
In the language of the statute and of the grant itself, the patent grant allows “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. What is granted is the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, selling or importing the invention. The patentee must enforce the patent without aid of the USPTO once the patent is issued.
The procedures for granting patents vary widely between countries according to national laws and international agreements. Typically, however, a patent application must include one or more claims defining the invention which meet the relevant patentability requirements such as novelty and non-obviousness.
In most countries, the exclusive right granted to a patentee is the right to prevent others from making, using, selling, or distributing the patented invention without permission.
What can be patented and the length of protection differ in many parts of the world. For example, many computer programs and business methods are not patentable in many countries, but are typically afforded protection in the United States.