FAQs

Q?Can I file a patent on my own?
A.

Of course you can, but the benefit of filing with the Luther Law Firm in Scottsdale, AZ is that they anticipate possible reasons that the patent examiner might use to reject your patent. Filing a patent is more than just knowing what form to use.

Q?Tell me about some of your successful patents?
A.

Do you have any patents that have become very valuable? This is a great question, because anybody can file a patent. But, the art comes in defending the patent application when the patent examiner tries to tear it apart. One example would be a set of two patents in the pharmaceutical industry that sold for over $120 Million. Eventually, these patents were grouped with others and sold for over a billion dollars. Another example, is a patent in the medical testing industry that eventually stood up in the California courts which yielded millions of dollars in royalties and licensing fees.

Q?How can you file for so much less than the big law firms?
A.

How can you submit the patent paperwork for so much less money than the typical law firm which is at least 10k? Because we remove almost all the overhead that a big law firm has, and pass that savings on to you. Plus, we’ve developed a trademarked process call BareBones™ which allow you to file a provisional patent for a fraction of the price.

Q?Who is going to actually write the patent application?
A.

First, the patent application is initially reviewed by Barbara Luther, then a specialized patent attorney in our firm takes over and completes the application. Finally, it is reviewed by Barbara Luther.

Q?I have a new product, I don’t know if I need patent, trademark, or copyright protection?
A.

To tell you the truth, it varies with the product. If you are trying to protect a product or service name – then use a trademark. If you are trying to protect a book, sculpture, workbook, series of programs, etc – then you would copyright it. If you are trying to protect a functional product, that does something, then you would start with a provisional patent. If your product is a new design, then a design patent should be used.

Q?Are there any other costs to a patent or trademark that I should know about?
A.

For our provisional patent, there are no more costs. For trademarks, there is a set filing fee, and after the initial filing – there may be additional fees depending on the US Trademark Office’s response.

Q?Should I get a patent or keep my idea a trade secret?
A.

Well, sometimes you can’t keep your idea a trade secret because when you sell it somebody could reverse engineer it – so a patent would make more sense. Also, it might make sense to patent portions of your idea and keep other portions a trade secret.

Q?Why don’t you charge more?
A.

Why don’t you charge more? That is a good question. There are a number of ways that we remove costs and pass those savings onto you. First, we are a virtual law firm, so we don’t have huge overhead costs. Second, we don’t have a large number of partners to support. Finally, we offer a BareBones™ Patent Process where we provide you, the inventor, with guidelines on what to do – and you save money by doing some of the leg work yourself. The first step is to go to our website and click the “Get Started” button.

Get Started
Q?Does a patent protect me overseas?
A.

This is a good question, and something that a lot of businesses don’t understand. A US Patent and Trademark only protects your intellectual property in the United States it doesn’t protect you internationally. But, a US Patent and/or Trademark is generally the first place to start.

Q?Does the BareBonesTM Patent Process include a search?
A.

The short answer is – no. With our BareBones™ Patent Process we don’t include a patent search, but we do provide you with a white paper so you can perform your own patent search prior to using our BareBones™ system.

Q?Do you have specialists in my technology field?
A.

Because we are a virtual law firm, we have attorneys in many different locations and fields of specialties, and we match up your technology with the attorney who is best fit to write your patent application.

Q?How Do I Know My Idea Will Be Protected?
A.

You’re a small virtual law firm, how do I know my idea will be protected? That is a common question that we receive. In this video Barbara Luther explains how with our virtual law firm we use focused and seasoned attorneys to write the paten, and a review process through Barbara to finalize the patent. It is with this process that we have been able to secure patents in many different industries.

Q?What is IP?
A.

IP is short for Intellectual Property. This distinguishes it from Personal Property like a car, an airplane or a computer, etc. Your house is Real Property. Intellectual Property can be a patent, a trademark, a copyright, or a trade secret.

Q?What is a patent?
A.

A patent is an exclusive right for you to stop others from making, importing, using, selling (or even offering to sell) your invention. In the USA, this right is guaranteed in the Constitution.

Patents are issued for products, methods and manufactures that someone has created. The first Article (Section Eight) of the U.S. Constitution. empowers Congress to pass laws that “promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” Congress has passed numerous laws over the years to create requirements for patents, including utility and design patents; it takes a sharp lawyer to navigate the twists and turn of patent law for your complete protection: that’s what you’ll find at Luther Law.

Q?What is a design patent?
A.

A design patent protects the decorative parts of your product, not the functional or operating aspects. If your invention includes both decorative and functional features, what you might need is a utility patent and a design patent. Ask us about that.

Q?What are the requirements to obtain a patent?
A.

Your invention must meet these criteria:

  • •  usefulness (unless it’s a design),
  • •  uniqueness (novel or new)
  • •  not obvious, and
  • •  well described in your patent application.

Over the years, the courts have added a maze of interpretations and decisions to the original Constitutional section about patents, while the Patent Office has hundreds of rules and regulations. These are minutely defined in libraries of law books. This is why, if you apply directly to the Patent Office by yourself without professional help, the people there will most often advise you to get a patent attorney on your side.

Q?What is a patent application?
A.

This is the most important document to be prepared: it is where you provide a complete and thorough description of your invention, strongly emphasizing the differences between your invention and previous similar products or methods.

Q?What does a patent application need to contain?
A.

Your patent application will probably contain all or most of the following, though not in this exact order:

  • •  Descriptive Title. Means just what it says.
  • •  Technical Field.This is a short identification of your invention’s place in the world. It helps the Patent Office classify your application and take appropriate action.
  • •  Background. This sets out the current state of the art, and the problems that your invention is intended to solve.
  • •  Summary. This is a first outline of your Claims. They will be detailed more completely in a later section.
  • •  Abstract. This is a broad summary of your Claims. It always appears on the front page of the final printed patent (when granted) to advise others of the essence of your invention.
  • •  Drawings. These show all the important details of the invention, and include a Brief Description. Each detail in the drawing is numbered and explained in the Detailed Description.
  • •  Detailed Description. This is a complete and thorough description of the invention and suitable variants. It can also contain examples of your efforts that resulted in slightly different iterations.
  • •  Claims. Here is where you actually legally define your invention, emphasizing its differences from the prior art or methods. These claims should be carefully negotiated between your patent attorney and the Patent Office Examiner.
Q?What is a copyright?
A.

A copyright gives full right of ownership to the creator of an artistic work … like a web page, book, sculpture, illustration, computer program, movie, etc.

Under current US copyright law, you actually have some copyright protection from the moment you create the work. But this is not sufficient if someone copies your artistic work.

Unless you are ready to sue someone, you don’t need to file for official copyright protection. A copyright only protects its owner from outright copying of the work … word for word, stroke for stroke, feature for feature, in substantial detail.. For instance, if you write a pirate adventure romance, and so does some other author, you cannot sue them unless that other writer exactly copied large portions of your work. There are other, simpler ways to protect your efforts, and we can explain them to you.

Q?How do copyright and patent protection differ?
A.

A copyright only protects you from copying. A patent can provide broader protection from imitators (depending on how well your Claims section is presented).

Here’s the difference: If you create a new computer program and someone copies it with only very small changes, you can probably sue them (but first see us to make sure those changes are indeed “very small”). If, say, your new computer program solves a specific problem, someone could create a different program (without copying yours) to solve that same problem without violating your copyright.

However, if you patent the method for solving the problem (showing your computer program as a way to solve it), you can sue for patent infringement even if the other person did not have access to – or even know about – your computer program.

Q?What is “fair use” of another’s copyright work?
A.

It’s complicated, and varies with the situation. However, you can apply a couple of guides:

1: Your use must be for only a minor part of the original work.

2. Your use must not interfere with the copyright owner’s ability to earn money from the copyrighted work.

If you download a very short clip from a movie, or a few seconds of a song, no problem. That’s called “fair use”. But if instead of buying a song or a movie from, say, iTunes, you download the whole thing through a “free” app like BitTorrent, you have in effect stolen the artist’s royalties (her right to make money) This is not fair use, it’s piracy, and there are strong legal remedies against people who do this.

If you know or suspect that someone is pirating your work, you should contact us at 480-344-7745.

Q?Can I copyright the name of my new product or service?
A.

No. Copyright applies to longer written works. You may be able to Trademark the name of your product or service.

Q?Do I need a model or working prototype for a patent?
A.

Not any more. The patent office no longer needs models or working prototypes. Nevertheless, sometimes the Patent Examiner may have difficulty understanding the operation or benefits of your invention, and at that point you may find it helpful to show the Examiner a model, or a video of its operation.

Before asking a designer to help you with a working prototype, it is very smart to file a Provisional Patent Application. That prevents the designer from claiming that the idea was his first. Yes, it happens – even among friends.

Luther Law’s exclusive and unique BAREBONES (TM) provisional patent application service protects you from this danger, for a single low, flat fee. Call and ask us about it.

A working prototype can help you work out the kinks in your invention and can even provide data which demonstrates an “unexpected improvement” over current products or methods. This in turn can help prove that your invention is “non obvious.” This is important, since being “Obvious” is the Patent Examiner’s favorite ground for rejection.

Q?How long does it take to obtain a patent?
A.

Don’t hold your breath. Patents often take two to three years to issue, or be granted — longer if not handled optimally. However, if you need a patent urgently, we can apply special procedures to speed up the process.

Once your patent application and all the paperwork have been filed and fees paid, the Patent Office tells us how long the waiting line is for a first action by the Patent Examiner. If you’re in a hurry, we’ve had success in speeding up the process. Be aware, though, more of our time is involved and there may be additional fees.

Q?How long does a patent last?
A.

Nowadays, a patent lasts 20 years from the earliest filing date (used to be 17 years from issue). However, you can gain an extra year of “patent pending”, and have time to fine-tune your Patent Application, by filing a Provisional Application.

Q?What are Provisional and Non provisional patent applications?
A.

Provisional: A Provisional Application allows you an extra year – without penalty – to make improvements to your invention … tweak its design … and take care of those little extra things you often think of in a flash of insight. You save money because the paperwork is less, you don’t need professional drawings, and the application is not reviewed by the Patent Office.

Luther Law’s exclusive and unique BAREBONES (TM) provisional patent application service affords you this extra protection for a single low, flat fee. Call and ask us about it.

Non-provisional: The 20-year clock starts clicking only at the end of your Provisional year, when you file your Non-provisional, permanent application. (Any changes you want to make after that time can be troublesome, time-consuming and expensive,)

A Non-provisional patent application starts the process of gaining a patent; government and legal costs are higher because more paperwork is required, the patent office will review the application, and professional drawings may be required.

Immediately upon filing either your Provisional or Non-provisional patent application, you can label your invention as “Patent Pending.”

Q?What does a patent application cost?
A.

From the legal aspect, that depends on a wide variety of factors, not least of which is the complexity of your invention. You can look up government fees on the Patent Office website.

Q?If I bring my invention to your office, can you tell me if I can get a patent?
A.

We love seeing new ideas, but it’s impossible to tell right off the bat if it is patentable. Usually, a patentability search is required to determine what the patent office has seen in your invention area and if your invention is new and sufficiently non obvious.

You could personally do a rough patent search at the Patent Office website (or Google “patents”); however, your results may be incomplete. At Luther Law, we use professional patent searchers — more effective because they are skilled at accessing and searching proprietary patent databases, which tend to be more complete and up to date.

Q?I heard that anyone can file a trademark application on the trademark web site.
A.

True; you won’t need secret passwords or anything. However, remember that the filing fee is non-refundable …

The filing form has very many blanks that you will need to fill in with unfamiliar terms, which – if you get them wrong and have to re-file – can cause you to waste that non-refundable fee.

Several clients have tried the do-it-yourself process first … and then come to us to handle it correctly. So we do not recommend that you try it yourself.

In addition, we docket and track your application for required responses and other dates, so all the follow-up work is done correctly on schedule.

In addition, whenever we receive correspondence from the Trademark Office, we promptly forward it to you with a plain-English explanation as well as your options and our legal advice for future action.