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  • Writer's pictureCassandra L. Wilkinson

Patents – What Kind Of Rights Do They Provide?

By Steven R. Tollette

Since March 16, 2013 when the American Invents Act became effective, the first inventor or inventors to file a patent application with the Patent and Trademark Office[1] on a new and useful invention may obtain a patent on that invention[2].

Once a patent is issued, the patent has rights as provided for in 35 U.S.C 154 as follows:

Every patent shall contain a short title of the invention and a grant to the patentee, his heirs or assigns, of the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States, and, if the invention is a process, of the right to exclude others from using, offering for sale or selling throughout the United States, or importing into the United States, products made by that process, referring to the specification for the particulars thereof.[3]

The best way to think of patent rights is as property rights similar to the rights you have in real property that you may own. In the case of a patent, your property rights are intangible such that physical possession is not a concern like it is in real property.

Using the example of real property, when you own real property you get a deed that provides the legal property boundaries for the real property that you own. Within these boundaries, you can exclude others from entering your property. You can rent, lease or sell some or all your real property to others. Your heirs can inherit your property on your passing.

The claims of the patent will establish the boundaries for your patent property rights like the legal property description establishes the boundary of your real property.

When your patent gets issued, you can exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling a product that falls within your patent property boundaries in the U.S. You can sell or license some or all of these patent property rights to others. Also, these patent property rights can be inherited by your heirs on your passing.

Having a better understanding of the kind of rights that patents provide should make it easier to determine how to get the best value from your invention.

[1] 35 U.S.C 102(a)(1)

[2] 35 U.S.C. 101

[3] 35 U.S.C. 154

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