Questions about Patents
l. Q. What do the terms "patent
pending" and "patent applied for" mean?
A. They are used by a manufacturer
or seller of an article to inform the public that an application for patent
on that article is on file in the Patent and Trademark Office. The law
imposes a fine on those who use these terms falsely to deceive the public.
2. Q. Is there any danger that
the Patent and Trademark Office will give others information contained
in my application while it is pending?
A. No. All patent applications are
maintained in the strictest confidence until the patent is issued. After
the patent is issued, however, the Office file containing the application
and all correspondence leading up to issuance of the patent is made available
in the Files Information Unit for inspection by anyone and copies of these
files may be purchased from the Office.
3. Q. May I write to the Patent
and Trademark Office directly about my application after it is filed?
A. The Office will answer an applicant’s
inquiries as to the status of the application, and inform you whether your
application has been rejected, allowed, or is awaiting action. However,
if you have a patent attorney or agent of record in the application file
the Office will not correspond with both you and the attorney/agent concerning
the merits of your application. All comments concerning your application
should be forwarded through your attorney or agent.
4. Q. Is it necessary to go to
the Patent and Trademark Office to transact business concerning patent
A. No; most business with the Office
is conducted by correspondence. Interviews regarding pending applications
can be arranged with examiners if necessary, however, and are often helpful.
5. Q. If two or more persons work
together to make an invention, to whom will the patent be granted?
A. If each had a share in the ideas
forming the invention, they are joint inventors and a patent will be issued
to them jointly on the basis of a proper patent application. If, on the
other hand, one of these persons has provided all of the ideas of the invention,
and the other has only followed instructions in making it, the person who
contributed the ideas is the sole inventor and the patent application and
patent shall be in his/her name alone.
6. Q. If one person furnishes
all of the ideas to make an invention and another employs him or furnishes
the money for building and testing the invention, should the patent application
be filed by them jointly?
A. No. The application must be signed
by the true inventor, and filed in the Patent and Trademark Office, in
the inventors name. This is the person who furnishes the ideas, not the
employer or the person who furnishes the money.
7. Q. Does the Patent and Trademark
Office control the fees charged by patent attorneys and agents for their
A. No. This is a matter between you
and your patent attorney or agent in which the Office takes no part. To
avoid misunderstanding you may wish to ask for estimate charges for: (a)
the search (b) preparation of the patent application, and (c) Patent and
Trademark Office prosecution.
8. Q. Will the Patent and Trademark
Office help me to select a patent
attorney or agent to make my patent search or to prepare and prosecute
my patent application?
A. No. The Office cannot make this
choice for you. However, your own friends or general attorney may help
you in making a selection from among those listed as registered practitioners
on the Office roster. Also, some bar associations operate lawyer referral
services that maintain lists of patent lawyers available to accept new
9. Q. Will the Patent and Trademark
Office advise me as to whether a certain patent promotion organization
is reliable and trustworthy?
A. No. The Office has no control
over such organizations and does not supply information about them. It
is advisable, however, to check on the reputation of invention promotion
firms before making any commitments. It is suggested that you obtain this
information from the Better Business Bureau of the city in which the organization
is located, or from the bureau of commerce and industry or bureau of consumer
affairs of the state in which the organization has its place of business.
You may also undertake to make sure that you are dealing with reliable
people by asking your own patent attorney or agent or by asking others
who may know them.
10. Q. Are there any organizations
in my area which can tell me how and where I may be able to obtain assistance
in developing and marketing my invention?
A. Yes. In your own or neighboring
communities you may inquire of such organizations as chambers of commerce,
and banks. Many communities have locally financed industrial development
organizations which can help you locate manufacturers and individuals who
might be interested in promoting your idea.
11. Q. Are there any state government
agencies that can help me in developing and marketing of my invention?
A. Yes. In nearly all states there
are state planning and development agencies or departments of commerce
and industry which seek new product and new process ideas to assist manufacturers
and communities in the state. If you do not know the names or addresses
of your state organizations you can obtain this information by writing
to the governor of your state.
12. Q. Can the Patent and Trademark
Office assist me in the developing and marketing
of my patent?
A. The Office cannot act or advise
concerning the business transactions or arrangements that are involved
in the development and marketing of an invention. However, the Office will
publish, at the request of a patent owner, a notice in the Official Gazette
that the patent is available for licensing or sale. The fee for this is
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