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Common Misconceptions about Patents 

Law Office of Julie Scott LLC Sept. 26, 2022

Patent lawA patent is an important intellectual property (IP) tool that allows an inventor to exclude other individuals or businesses from manufacturing, using, selling, or importing their invention. However, there is a lot of misleading information surrounding what a patent can do, what can be patented, and how to apply for one. A well-informed Missouri intellectual property law attorney can speak with you about some facts about patents and help clarify the misconceptions.  

At the Law Office of Julie Scott LLC, I am happy to provide outstanding legal services to clients in complex intellectual property matters involving patents. As your legal counsel, I can inform you about how to use a patent, the type of protections they offer and guide you through the application process. My firm proudly serves clients across Kansas City, Missouri, and the surrounding communities of Columbia, Springfield, and Rolla. 

What Are Patents?  

Patents are exclusive right granted – by the federal government – to an inventor, which prevents other parties or entities from using, making, or selling the invention for a particular period of time without the patent owner's permission. During this period, the patent owner, usually an inventor, will have the exclusive rights to make, use, sell, or import the invention. 

Examples of Patents 

Many types of technologies and devices have been patented. For example, each of the following have been patented: 

  • The iPhone 

  • Google PageRank 

  • The telephone 

  • The computer 

  • 3D printer 

  • Bluetooth 

  • The maglev (Magnetic Levitation) 

  • The electric lightbulb 

  • The internal combustion engine 

A good Missouri patent attorney can walk you through everything you need to know about patents and through the application process.   

Common Misconceptions about Patents 

There are several collective popular opinions and false assumptions out there about patents and other intellectual property tools. Due to this, patent attorneys in Missouri must educate their clients about what a patent is, what it can do, what can be patented, and how a patent is different from other IP tools or IP protection. Here are some common myths and misconceptions about patents and a brief explanation of why they're false: 

Misconception #1: I Need to Build it Before I Patent It 

This is a common misconception. Patent laws in the United States do not require you to build or create your invention or a prototype before applying for a patent. Thus, you can file a patent application once you've identified the possible solution, required steps, and features. 

Misconception #2: Ideas Themselves Can Be Patented 

An idea is just an idea, no matter how great it can be. You cannot patent a concept or idea. Patent laws in the United States require inventors to reduce the invention to practice. This means that before you can obtain patent protection, you must form the invention beyond a mere concept.  You need to be able to explain how to make and use your invention.

Misconception #3: I Can Keep My Invention Secret & Still Obtain a Patent 

This is not entirely true. In order to obtain a patent, you must disclose your invention in the application that is filed with the patent office. If you are seeking a utility patent -- you are trying to patent the useful aspects of your invention -- after 18 months the patent office can publish the details of a utility patent application, the invention description, and your name and address to the general public.  If you are seeking to protect the ornamentation, i.e. the look and feel of an invention, then the design patent application will remain confidential, but the design patent, once issued, will become public.

Misconception #4: After Getting a Patent, I Am Guaranteed to Produce & Sell My Product 

Getting a patent doesn't guarantee that you will be able to produce and sell the product. Before investing in the production of your product, and offering it for sale, you will want to verify that you won't overlap with a third-party's patent, meaning that you have the "freedom to operate." Nonetheless, filing a patent application is the first step toward protecting your invention. 

Misconception #5: Patents Protect My Invention Worldwide 

This is another common misconception. Presently, there is no international or worldwide patent. You can file an international application that streamlines the process rather than filing a separate application in each country. Bear in mind, that eventually you do have to file in each separate country to obtain patent protection in those countries. Patent rights are limited and only valid in the country in which you applied for the patent protection. You cannot have a patent to protect your invention worldwide with a single filing. 

Misconception #6: Patents Are Only Helpful in a Legal Sense 

Many inventors often believe that patents are only useful for identifying other people who try to steal or copy their invention or prove that they own the invention during a legal battle. However, patents offer more than legal benefits. Patenting an invention can increase its market value, build trust with consumers, and boost sales. Also, having a strong patent portfolio can help attract more investors to your company. 

Skilled Legal Counsel For You & Your Business 

For many individuals and businesses, navigating intellectual property matters involving patents can be quite tricky. Due to the complicated procedures involved, getting clear direction when applying for a patent is vital for a seamless and successful application. A seasoned intellectual property law attorney can analyze your potential legal options and determine the best way to protect your inventions, innovations, and original works.  

At the Law Office of Julie Scott LLC, I provide knowledgeable advice and advocacy to clients in intellectual property and patent-related matters. As your legal counsel, I can educate you about the benefits of patents and what can be patented, and help you decide whether your invention qualifies for a patent. Also, I will guide you through the legal steps involved in your patent application and help you navigate crucial decisions.  

Contact my firm - the Law Office of Julie Scott LLC - today to arrange a simple consultation with a competent patent lawyer. My firm proudly serves clients across Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield, and Rolla, Missouri and their surrounding areas.