Freedom to Operate – Is research to ensure that manufacturing, selling, or using a product or idea will not infringe a patent.
Intellectual Property – Patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and other things people create.
Non-provisional patent application – An application for a patent that is examined by the USPTO with the intention of obtaining approval.
Patent – A patent application that has been examined and approved by the USPTO.
Patent Agent – A non-attorney registered to practice before the USPTO. A patent agent can assist a person in filing for a patent but cannot litigate (go to court to protect) the patent in courts.
Patent Attorney – An attorney registered to practice before the USPTO.
Patent Infringement – The violation of a granted patent within the country of the patent. Examples include manufacturing products, using or selling products protected by the patent’s claims, or importing a product covered by the patent into the country in which patent protection exists. Violating a patent can result in the patent holder suing the infringer. Intentional patent infringement can result in treble (3 times actual damages) paid by the infringer to the patent holder.
Patent invalidation – The process of finding prior art that predates a granted patent in an attempt to invalidate some or all of an interfering patent’s claims. Invalidation is a formal process undertaken through the USPTO in which the patent grant may be revoked. In a more informal process, it is often possible to gather potential prior art with the goal of convincing a patent holder that their efforts to move forward with an infringement suit may be met with an equally vigorous effort to invalidate their patent. The result can be a form of unpeaceful co-existance.
Patentability – The determination of whether an idea is novel and non-obvious, making it suitable to be granted. Patentability research typically includes a review of published patents and patent applications anywhere in the world. Patentability research can also include a review of international patents and applications, research papers, news articles, books, and the internet. If the invention has been described or disclosed anywhere prior to filing an application, it can be rejected.
Prior art – A prior description of an invention that limits the ability of a later inventor to obtain a patent on an invention.
Prior art search – A search performed through patent, technical and other databases seeking potential prior art that might limit the ability of an applicant to obtain a patent.
Provisional patent – A patent application filed as a “place-holder” in the US while the details of the invention are worked out. A provisional patent is not examined and is not granted.
USPTO – United States Patent and Trade Office