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Frequently Asked Questions

How does patent priority work in the United States?

In the United States, patent protection is a legal provision that grants exclusive rights to an inventor over their invention. This means that the invention solely belongs to the inventor and these rights can be licensed, bought, and sold. The U.S. recognizes three types of patent protection: utility patents, design patents, and plant patents. The U.S. patent system operates on a 'first-to-file' basis. This means that patent priority is given to the first person who files a patent application for an invention, rather than the first person who comes up with the invention. This shift from 'first-to-invent' to 'first-to-file' is significant as it places the emphasis on the act of filing the patent application. To file a patent, the invention must meet certain requirements. It must be unique, useful, non-obvious, and novel. The invention must also fall into one of the four general patent classes: articles of manufacture, processes and methods, compositions of matter, and machines. Before filing a patent, it is crucial to conduct a patent search to ensure that a similar patent has not already been issued. This is because if another patent exists and your invention is not novel, patent protection will be denied.

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