Intellectual property law can be very complex and confusing for people who don’t deal with this fairly arcane area of the law. Because of this, there are a lot of misconceptions about patents floating around Southern California’s business community. These myths can harm businesses and entrepreneurs by causing them to make mistakes based on uninformed advice. In this blog, we will examine four such myths and explain where they go wrong.
Myth #1: The Registered Letter
Traditional advice to an inventor was to write down their idea in a letter and mail it to themselves by registered mail. This supposedly proved the date when you came up with the invention. Older patent law was based on who was the first to invent something. But modern law is based on who is the first to file for a patent, not who had the idea first. An unopened letter is not relevant.
Myth #2: A U.S. Patent Covers The Globe
Some people think getting a patent from the U.S. government means an invention is protected from copycats in every other country too. This is false. However, under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, you can file a single application that covers more than 150 countries. If you do this, you have the option of paying to file in other countries later on.
Myth #3: ‘Patent Pending’ Means A Lot
It is commonly thought that once an invention has “patent pending” status, you can pursue infringement claims. But patent pending just means you have filed for a patent. Manufacturers put “patent pending” on their packaging to dissuade competitors from trying to copy their invention. But if a competitor does, there may not be anything the patent petitioner can do, at least until the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approves their patent.
Myth #4: Computer Software And Business Methods Can’t Be Patented
There is a misconception that you cannot patent a piece of computer software or a related unique business method when, in fact, you can.
The fact that so many experienced inventors, entrepreneurs and business owners have so much wrong information about patent law proves how invaluable an IP attorney can be. Contact our office for more information about how we help our clients apply for and protect their patents.