Intellectual property (IP) assets, such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights, account for the bulk of many companies’ value. For technology- and innovation-based companies, patents are the most valuable form of IP, protecting products and market segments worth potentially hundreds of millions of dollars. Assets as valuable as these must be protected and enforced, which requires attorneys who understand both the technology and the law. A Birmingham patent lawyer at AdamsIP can help your company obtain the patents you need to protect your innovations, protect them from challenges by competitors, and enforce them against infringers.
Patent Prosecution for Innovative Alabama Companies
The patent attorneys at AdamsIP have extensive experience obtaining patent protection for our clients’ inventions. The process of obtaining a patent is known as “patent prosecution” and is administered by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Patent prosecution can often be costly, time-consuming, and technically complex, requiring the assistance of an experienced attorney who understands your company’s technologies and the intricacies of USPTO practice. The Birmingham attorneys at AdamsIP handle all aspects of patent prosecution, including drafting patent applications, responding to office actions, amending claims, conducting examiner interviews, and appealing rejections.
The Three Types of Patents
Our attorneys handle patent prosecution for all three types of patents: utility, design, and plant.
- Utility patents are the most common type of patents and cover “inventions” — i.e., machines, industrial processes, pharmaceutical products, methods of treatment, software code, etc. Utility patents protect the way a product works.
- Design patents, on the other hand, protect the way a product looks. Design patent protection is available for any ornamental design so long as the design does not improve the functioning of the product, such as configuration and shape, surface ornamentation, and color arrangement.
- Plant patents protect new and distinctive plants that are not found in nature and that can be asexually reproduced.
How to Obtain a Patent
Patent prosecution is an ex parte proceeding between the patent applicant (and his or her attorney) and a patent examiner at the USPTO. It begins when the applicant files a patent application. The examiner then scrutinizes the applicant’s invention to ensure that it complies with the requirements of patentability, and in most cases will issue at least one rejection. The applicant may then either amend the application to address the examiner’s concerns or convince the examiner to withdraw the rejection. This process continues for several rounds of rejections and amendments until the USPTO issues the patent or the applicant gives up and abandons the application.
Patent Strategy and Counseling
There’s more to patents than just patent prosecution; most companies have a goal to create a patent portfolio around a product, which enables them to license their patents and enter into partnerships with other companies, among other things. Every Birmingham patent lawyer at AdamsIP takes a holistic view of their clients’ businesses, handling all aspects of the patent procurement and monetization process, including patent searches, patent analysis and opinions, licensing agreements, and patent due diligence.
Before you apply for patent protection at the USPTO, you first need to make sure that nobody else has already applied for or received a patent on a similar invention. But it’s not quite as simple as that. Perhaps someone has patented only a single component of your invention or there is uncertainty about whether someone else’s invention is similar enough to yours to cause problems for you. A well-executed patent search can minimize the likelihood of surprises — and financial risks — down the road.
It’s often difficult to know what to do next during the research and development process. Should you try for patent protection on an invention? Would you even be able to obtain patent protection on it if you tried? If you took your product to market, what are the chances that it would infringe an existing patent? These are difficult questions and the answers to them are often a matter of opinion. When you’re looking for strategic advice, you may seek out a patent opinion on one or more of the following matters:
- Freedom to operate
A Birmingham patent lawyer can evaluate your specific circumstances and help you decide on the best path forward.
Patent Litigation: Protect Your IP Assets with Our Birmingham Patent Lawyer
When it comes time to enforce your IP assets against others — or defend yourself against allegations of infringement — you will need a shrewd attorney to develop a winning litigation strategy. Our attorneys have significant experience representing both patent owners and defendants in patent litigation involving a wide range of technologies. We know both the technology and the law, and we skillfully explain both to juries in terms they can understand and that are in the light most favorable to our clients.
The most common type of patent-related litigation is patent infringement. Patent infringement occurs when someone other than the patent owner makes, uses, sells, offers for sale, or imports into the United States an item that is covered by a patent without the permission of the patent owner. It can result in serious losses for patent owners, as well as serious damages awards against defendants.
Defenses to Patent Infringement
Being served with a complaint for patent infringement can be intimidating and frightening. While the allegations may sound dire, there are several defenses to patent infringement. One of the most popular of those defenses is non-infringement, in which the defendant shows that he did not engage in the actions he is accused of or that his actions do not constitute infringement of the asserted patent. Another very popular defense is invalidity, in which the defendant shows that, regardless of whether his actions amounted to infringement, the patent is invalid and never should have been issued.
Contact a Birmingham Patent Lawyer for More Information
If you need help with a patent-related matter — whether it is prosecution, counseling, or litigation — please contact a Birmingham patent lawyer at AdamsIP by calling 251-289-9787 or by using our online contact form.
505 20th St N Suite 1215
Birmingham, AL 35203