Frequently Asked Questions about IP

Q: What is Intellectual Property (IP) and what are IP rights?
A: IP (Intellectual property), analogous to any physical property, refers to creation of the mind in various forms such as inventions, designs, literary works, artistic works, symbols, names, images etc.

Intellectual property rights can allow you to own things you create in a similar way to owning a physical property. You can control the use of your IP and use it to gain reward. This encourages further innovation and creativity. IP rights can be protected under various laws mainly categorized into four groups: 

1. Patents: Patents includes the technical and functional aspects of products and processes.
2. Design patents: Designs includes the visual appearance or eye appeal of products.
3. Copyright: Copyright includes material, such as literature, art, music, sound recordings, films and broadcasts.
4. Trade Marks: Trade Marks includes signs that can distinguish the goods and services of one trader from those of another.

Q: What are advantages of IP rights?
A: IP rights give protection against misuse of exclusive rights to your IP. In simple terms, an IP rights is a patent granted by the government to an inventor for an invention to exclude others from making, using, and selling the product manufactured using the same invention. If someone uses your IP without permission, that is if they infringe your IP rights, then you can take legal action to stop them.

If you want to let other people use your IP, but you want to keep control of it, you can license it to one or more people.

If you do not want to use your IP yourself, you can sell it, just like physical property. However, once you have sold your IP, you cannot use it unless you get permission, known as a license, from the new owner.

Q: What is the procedure of owning IP rights for a new invention?
A: Any kind of IP is needed to be applied for and protection will be granted for that IP as patents, registered designs and trade marks. The protection will be given only if what you have is something that can be protected by IP rights law.

In order to obtain an IP right for an invention, the inventor is needed to submit an application to a government authority of the state or to a regional office acting for several states. In the application the inventor must describe the invention in detail and demonstrate its newness compared with the previous existing technologies. Once IP rights are granted, the inventor owns exclusive rights for his/her IP for a limited period of time, generally 20 years.

United States Patent and trademark office (USPTO) accepts applications and grants IP rights valid in USA. Similarly, UK patent office, Indian patent office (IPO), and Japan patent office (JPO) grant IP rights in UK, India and Japan respectively.

It is generally advisable to find a patent attorney or patent agent to get help for the whole patent filing process as patent application preparation and prosecution is altogether different practice that requires legal knowledge and skills related to patent laws. Patent agent or attorneys have experience in the preparation and prosecution of patent application.

Q: What is a Patent Agent or Patent Attorney?
A: Patent Agent or Attorney is a person, with specialized qualification, acting on behalf of inventor applying for a patent. The patent agent prepares a patent application and then takes that application through the various stages needed to get a patent. The agent could then ensure that the patent stays in force and deal with any infringement, licensing or other issues that may arise during the life of a patent.

Q: What is a provisional application?
A: A Provisional Application for Patent (also called as “Provisional Patent Application”) is a patent application, filed in the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) which provides an inventor with the opportunity to establish an early effective filing date for a corresponding normal or non-provisional patent application. The corresponding non-provisional patent application must be filed with USPTO within one year of the provisional patent application filing. In contrast to a non-provisional patent application, a provisional patent application may be submitted without a formal patent claim, declaration or any information disclosure statement.

Q: What is a non-provisional patent application?
A: A non-provisional patent application is what is referred as patent application. To distinguish from provisional application, it is called non-provisional application. Thus when a provisional application for a patent is filed, a non-provisional patent application is required to file within 12 months of the filing date of provisional application. The non-provisional patent application is the only application that can lead to a patent.