Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Intellectual Property law important for a business?

Intellectual Property law is important for a business because it protects the exclusive rights of the inventor to use his/her invention. This means that no one else can take the idea/invention and profit from it. It is an essential business protection, and may seriously impact a company’s bottom line.

What is a patent?

A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a state (national government) to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for a public disclosure of an invention. The procedure for granting patents, the requirements placed on the patentee, and the extent of the exclusive rights vary widely between countries according to national laws and international agreements.

How do patents protect businesses?

When a patent is filed, the owner controls how the invention is used. It establishes the right of the patent’s owner to stop people from making, using, importing or selling the patented invention without permission. It also allows the owner to license others to use the invention, generating royalties, which can provide an important source of business revenue.

Does filing a patent in the U.S. protect Intellectual Property internationally?

Patents are territorial, and infringement is only possible in a country where a patent is in force. The scope of protection may vary from country to country. Because the patent is examined by the patent office in each country or region and may have some difference of patentability, a granted patent is difficult to enforce worldwide.

Are there any risks if trademarks and patents are not registered?

There is definitely a risk of other companies using an identical trademark for goods or services which are identical to the inventor’s goods/services in geographic areas where the trademark hasn’t been used. Other companies or entities could even develop “concurrent rights” which could prevent the inventor from using the trademark should a company decide to expand the business. The trademark and its exclusivity can be protected by federally registering it before a third party begins using it. Even if a third party is already using a company’s mark, there is still a possibility of federally registering it.

What constitutes patent infringement?

The definition of patent infringement may vary by jurisdiction, but it typically includes using or selling the patented invention, without the permission of the patent holder. In many countries, a use is required to be commercial (or to have a commercial purpose) to constitute patent infringement. The scope of the patented invention or the extent of protection is defined in the claims of the granted patent, which inform the public of what is not allowed without the permission of the patent holder. Permission may typically be granted in the form of a license.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a distinctive sign or indicator, typically a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or a combination of these elements that is used by an individual, business organization or other legal entity to identify its products or services to consumers. An entity uses a trademark to distinguish its products or services from those of other entities and as originating from a unique source.

What are trade secrets?

A trade secret is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable, by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers. In some jurisdictions, such secrets are referred to as “confidential information” or “classified information”.

What is a copyright?

Copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work. All uses require permission. In most jurisdictions, copyright does not need to be registered, but needs to be marked or stated on the original work. Originally applied to copying of books, today it covers a wide range of works, including maps, sheet music, dramatic works, paintings, photographs, sound recordings, motion pictures and computer programs.

What are GAI’s U.S. and international credentials?

GAI's experts hold both US and non-US qualifications. Dr. Graeser herself is a US Patent Agent. Oz Solomon and Ariel Averbuch are both Israeli Patent Attorneys. Ariel Averbuch is also an Israeli Attorney. 

We also work extensively with patent attorneys in other countries, particularly Europe, Brazil, China, India, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia. 

How does GAI maximize ROI for clients?

Maximizing ROI (return on investment) for GAI's clients includes maximizing IP protection for their valuable products and inventions, and the overall value of the IP portfolio. But maximizing ROI also means that GAI helps clients to focus their IP spending on business markets of interest and to tailor such spending specifically to individual markets, avoiding a "one size fits all" approach.

What is meant by patentability?

Within the context of a national or multilateral body of law, an invention is patentable if it meets the relevant legal conditions to be granted a patent. By extension, patentability also refers to the substantive conditions that must be met for a patent to be held valid. In order for an invention to be patentable, it usually requires that the patent:
• be of patentable subject matter, i.e. a kind of subject-matter that is eligible for patent protection,
• be novel (i.e. at least some aspect of it must be new),
• be non-obvious (in United States patent law) or involve an inventive step (in European patent law); and
• be useful (in U.S. patent law) or be susceptible of industrial application (in European patent law).
Judging patentability is one aspect of the official examination of a patent application performed by a patent examiner.
GAI can provide a patentability opinion regarding whether an invention satisfies the substantive conditions of patentability.

Are there any time limits on filing patent applications?

U.S. Patent law requires patent applications to be filed by certain deadlines or they will be barred from being patented. Invention(s) must have been conceived prior to anyone else in the U.S. and the patent application(s) must be filed within a year after the invention was described in a publication, patented anywhere else, used publicly or sold in this country. Once the invention is disclosed to others, e.g. at a trade show, in a brochure or otherwise, and more than a year elapses before the filing of a patent application, it will probably be too late. Similarly, if the inventor, a friend or anyone else publicly uses the invention, or puts it on sale (which can include offers for sale, even if no sale is actually made), a patent application must be filed within a year or the inventor will be barred from getting a patent. 

For patent protection outside the US, an even earlier filing might be required. Many foreign countries require applications be filed before anything is done to make an invention known to the public (called the “absolute novelty requirement”). While most countries will give foreign patent applications the filing date of a previously filed US application (if filed within a year of the U.S. application), a U.S. application would need to be filed before publicly disclosing the idea/invention anywhere.

How long does a patent last?

A patent expires 20 years from the earliest U.S. filing date, if issued, (excluding provisional applications), assuming all maintenance fees were paid on a timely basis and no terminal disclaimers were filed. There are exceptions to this. U.S. design patents do not require maintenance fees, and expire 14 years from issuance.

What is Open Source Auditing?

Open source software generally refers to any software application for which the source code is publicly available so that users may read it, make changes to it and build new versions of the software – all without payment of a license fee, but otherwise in accordance with the applicable open source software license agreement. Under some open source license agreements, such as the GNU General Public License, modifications that a developer makes to the open source software must be made freely available to the public under the same terms as the original license. This could result in the loss of your company's rights to control access to its proprietary software. GAI provides services for open source audits. Please contact GAI for more details.

 

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