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Patent Basics

Types of Patents

What are the different types of patents? Patents have been the bedrock of innovation, powering the innovations of our early republic, through the Industrial Revolution and patents continue to play a big role in today’s technology improvements. Over 10,000,000 patents have been issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and over 400,000 are…

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How long do patents last?

How long do US patents last? Different types of patents have different lifespans.  All of the answers below are for United States (US) patents. How long do utility patents last? Utility patents last 20 years from the earliest priority or 17 years from the date of issue, whichever is longer. Note that you must pay…

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I’m A Recovering Patent Attorney

What is Really Wrong with the Patent System I am a “recovering patent attorney.”  I became a patent attorney after years as an engineer.  I went to a patent attorney and I expected my patent attorney to help me, but I was sorely disappointed.  I was so disappointed that I took the Patent Bar Exam,…

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Inhouse vs Outside Patent Counsel

There are Two Types of Lawyers There are two types of patent lawyers: outside counsel and inhouse counsel.  Each type of lawyer plays a completely different role, and the two types are at a constant battle with each other.  It is not to say that there is a war, but there are diametrically opposed interests…

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How to Spot Bad Patents

Investment-Grade Patents represent only a small sliver of the patent universe. Their value comes from a huge amount of research and thought. However, bad patents are easy to spot. These less-than-optimal patents have certain characteristics that can easily be identified by anyone: the inventor, the investor, or anyone in litigation.  Use this as a first…

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IP Due Diligence in Two Questions

There are two questions to ask every time you are dealing with patents: Can you tell if someone infringes? How hard is it to design around your patent? With these two questions, you are 90% of the way there on IP due diligence. Here is my presentation to Band of Angels in October, 2020.

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The Light Bulb is the Worst Symbol of Invention

Invention is the heavy lifting of 1000’s of failed experiments, not a grand vision that pops into someone’s head. The light bulb is the universal symbol of “invention.”  It is the worst – and best – example of invention, but not in the way you think it is. Invention has been portrayed in lore as…

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Patents in a Business Context

Why patents as a “lottery ticket” is a losing proposition. A business owner makes hard business decisions, especially when it comes to IP.  There is only so much money and so much time, so how do you decide? Patents represent enormous potential value, and they feel like a lottery ticket.  The risk to reward –…

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Terminal Disclaimers – One for the Price of Two

Terminal disclaimers are costly for the client – but an easy money maker for patent attorneys. Terminal disclaimers are where you pay twice to get the same thing. They are a money maker for the USPTO – and your patent attorney.  They should be avoided at all costs.  In most cases, a terminal disclaimer is…

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Is Your Patent Examiner Awful? One of the Patent Myths

The Myth that the Patent Examiner does not understand your invention. One of the myths that is perpetuated by the patent bar is that the examiners somehow do not understand your invention. The truth is that the examination process is far better than most patent attorneys will admit, and that is part of why startups…

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