"What is a Patent?"
A United States patent is a grant from the government that gives the owner the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, and importing the invention. Patents in other countries carry analogous rights.
"Who issues a patent in the United States?"
US patents are issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Washington, DC.
"What can be patented?"
A patent may be obtained on a novel, nonobvious, and useful composition of matter, process, machine, article of manufacture, plant, microorganism, animal, computer software, or improvement of any of the above.
"How long does it take to receive a patent from initiation?"
It is not uncommon for the process to take anywhere from two to four years.
"What is a provisional patent application?"
A provisional patent application is a United States patent application that may be filed without some of the formalities required of a regular patent application. A provisional patent application is not examined by the US Patent and Trademark Office, and a patent cannot issue directly from a provisional application. A provisional application is abandoned as a matter of law one year after its filing date. A provisional application may be "continued" by filing a regular, non-provisional patent application satisfying all necessary formalities within one year of the provisional filing date.
The principal advantage of a provisional patent application is that its pendency, which cannot exceed one year, does not count as part of the twenty-year patent term. Although a provisional application need not satisfy all the formal requirements of a regular patent application, a provisional application should not be viewed as a vehicle to file a hastily-prepared application, with the thought that any problems can be fixed within the year. Except for complying with certain formal requirements, a provisional application should be prepared with the same degree of care as a regular patent application.
The filing of a provisional patent application starts the one-year period during which a foreign patent application may be filed that claims the benefit of a United States filing date.
"Who owns patents at LSU?"
The Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College owns patents on most inventions made by LSU employees.
"How does one go about obtaining a patent at LSU?"
The process of obtaining a patent on an LSU invention begins when a researcher submits a technology disclosure to the ITC for evaluation. The ITC initiates the patent prosecution process with one of LSU's contracted patent attorneys, who prepares, files, and prosecutes patents on behalf of LSU's inventors. It is important to note that patent attorney works closely with the inventors throughout the process.
"How does the inventor participate in patent prosecution?"
The patent attorney communicates with USPTO in close consultation with the inventors.
"What is the cost of obtaining a US patent?"
The cost of obtaining a patent varies widely. Factors include the attorney's time and hourly rate, the type of technology being patented, the number of claims and drawings included in the application, the number and nature of rejections from the USPTO, filing fees, etc. It is not unusual for the cost to range between $4,000 and $10,000.
"What is the cost to the inventor or his/her department to obtain patents?"
None. All patenting and other legal expenses, including licensing expenses, are borne by LSU. In certain cases the licensee or the research sponsor pays for such expenses.
"Can LSU help a non-LSU employee obtain a patent?"
"How are foreign patents obtained?"
By filing in foreign patent offices.
"Who decides to apply for foreign patents?"
Foreign patent rights are expensive, and LSU does not often pursue them unless a licensee is willing to pay the foreign patenting costs. Foreign patent applications usually must be filed within twelve months of the initial US filing. Early publication of research results may destroy the possibility of foreign patent protection in many countries outside the US. See also the FAQs on "Publishing/Publications." Contact ITC to discuss further.
"Who selects the attorney to prosecute a patent application?"
The Office of Innovation & Technology Commercialization.