One of the first questions many inventors ask is: What Does a Patent Do, and Why Should I get a patent?
What Does a Patent Do?
A patent is a grant from the government which provides the receiver of a patent the exclusive right to their invention for a fixed period of time. In exchange, the inventor has an obligation to teach others about the invention so that society can benefit from the invention after the invention is no longer protectable. Stated differently, the patent is a reward for teaching others about the invention. To receive the patent rights, the inventor must disclose the invention by filing a patent application with the government which provides a detailed description of the invention.
Generally, a utility patent application must include:
- Detailed description of the invention which teaches others how the invention works and includes the best mode for practicing the invention;
- A background, abstract and summary of the invention; and
- Claims to what the inventor wishes to receive in exchange for disclosing the invention.
A patent gives the inventor the right to control who can use the patented invention. Typically, the inventor controls the authorized use with a license agreement.
Why Should I get a Patent ?
If you have received a patent, you have specific rights which can be enforced against others to stop unauthorized users of the invention. As a form of intellectual property, a patent provides the inventor the right to enforce their patent against others who attempt to use or misappropriate the patented invention without permission. Under the law of patents the owner has specific rights which can be enforced during the term of the patent. These patent rights include the right to:
- Exclude others from making the patented invention;
- Exclude others from selling the patented invention;
- Exclude others from using the patented invention; and
- Exclude others from importing the patented invention into the United States.
Typically, the patent owner can authorize use of the patented invention with a license. The license is the way the inventor typically makes money off the invention. The license is typically a written agreement between two parties which highlights what the licensee can do and what the inventor will receive in exchange for granting a license.
A typical license agreement will address some of the following:
- What rights are being permitted;
- Exclusive or Non-exclusive permission;
- Geographic scope; (usually specific or worldwide)
- Term of the Agreement;
- Transferable/ Non-Transferable;
- Sublicense /non-sublicenseable
- Royalty Payment;
- Minimum Annual Sales;
- Enforcement; and
- Representations and Warranties.
Contact one of our patent attorneys if you have questions about What Does a Patent Do, Why you should get a Patent or if you simply need assistance drafting a License Agreement.