The Paris convention route allows you to file patent applications in countries of interest within 12 months of the filing date of your first patent application.
A PCT application extends the time period to subsequently file in other countries under the PCT treaty from 12 months to about 30 months. While the list of PCT contracting countries is expending, not all countries are parties to the PCT. For example, Taiwan is not a PCT contracting country.
In general, the most common types of patents in most countries have a term of 20 years from the filing date.
US Patent Term Extension
In the US, the term of a Utility Patent on a pharmaceutical or medical device invention may be extended longer than 20 years due to its Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval process.
Generally, the most common types of patent application in most countries are published by the respective patent offices at around 18 months from the priority date. Therefore, if the applicant changes her mind and desires to keep her invention secret instead, she must explicitly abandon her patent application before this time.
A patent application is examined on three major criteria: patentable subject matter, novelty, and inventiveness.
Patentable Subject Matter
Abstract Idea / Natural Phenomenon
To be patentable, the claimed subject matter must NOT be an abstract idea or natural phenomenon. An example of an abstract idea could be a mental process of solving a mathematical problem. An example of a natural phenomenon could be a naturally occurring (unmodified) DNA sequence.
Business Method and Software
A business method, such as a method of managing an investment portfolio, a way of conducting commercial activities (e.g. online auction), and a scheduling procedure of freight shipments, is often viewed by many patent offices as an abstract idea, and thus not patentable.
Nonetheless, cleverly-drafted patent claims defining a business method in terms of machine instructions being executed by computers sometime can persuade an examiner otherwise.
Similarly, software inventions face the same challenge. However, hundreds of thousands of software patent applications continue to be filed every year with many granted patents. Software remains to be one of the most dynamic and innovative technology areas, and patentees find software patents highly valuable.
Medicine and Medical Treatment
By public policy, certain medicines and medical treatments are barred from patenting in some countries, notably China and many European countries. Again, specifically-styled patent claims are still permissible.
We are experienced in drafting these special claims, increasing the patentability of your unique and valuable inventions.
Having novelty means the claimed subject matter must have never been sold, offered for sale, or publicly disclosed by anyone before its patent application’s priority date.
The US provides a grace period of one year, so that one can still be eligible for a US patent if she files her patent application in the US within one year of the public disclosure (by the applicant/inventor herself).
The claimed subject matter must not be obvious in view of the prior art. A simple combination of existing technologies is considered to be obvious, thus such subject matter does not possess inventiveness to be patentable. On the other hand, repurposing of an existing technology is patentable in some technological fields (i.e. pharmaceuticals and chemicals).
We can work with you to determine how your inventive ideas can be best protected by a patent.
While examination in a design registration is a lot simpler and shorter compared to a patent application, a design is still subject to the novelty test. In other words, a design must be new and its overall impression must be different from prior designs. The owner of a prior design could request invalidity of your design registration.