In addition to educating our clients, we encourage them to seek additional education. If you’d like to learn more about patent, trademark and copyrighting law, please click on the links below and explore our FAQ.

FAQ about intellectual property

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is a patent search?

A: A patent is directed to an invention which is both new and not obvious in view of the state of the related prior art (previously issued patents). That is, a patent is directed to the contribution made by the inventor to the state of the art.

A patent search is primarily a search of issued patents which are directed to the same subject matter as your invention. Thereby, an analysis can be undertaken to determine the nature and degree of differences of the invention over the prior art. If these differences are novel and unobvious, the preparation, filing, prosecution, and issuance of a patent may be warranted.

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Q: What is the immediate value of a patent search?

A: The result of a search will provide:

  • a) a basis for determining whether the invention is sufficiently unique to warrant the grant of a patent and the attendant long term right to exclude others from making, using and/or selling the same device or practice the same method;
  • b) an indication of the extent and degree of good will that may be created if the invention is patented;
  • c) an indication to a prospective licensee of the extent such licensee may be able to "corner the market" and thereby provide a reflection of the royalty or licensee fee to be paid.
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Q: How much should I spend for a patentability search?

A: Generally, the cost of a patent search will be in the range of $1,000 to $1,500 for most inventions that are directed to the single identifiable concept that corresponds with the contribution to the state of the art made by the invention. The cost for the search is primarily a function of time spent and the degree of confidence desired to know that the closest prior art has been uncovered. Search costs are also affected by the complexity of the invention and the number of patent databases searched.

The United States Patent Office has a complex classification system for classifying all United States patents, a large number of foreign patents, and non-patent literature. The classification system includes several hundred classes, each of which has several hundred subclasses and some of which have many sub-subclasses. The patents are classified as a function of the invention recited in the claims while the non-patent literature is generally classified by the primary subject matter. A patentability search involves reviewing the appropriate classes, subclasses, and sub-subclasses relevant to the invention sought to be searched.

The Patent Office database is publicly available at the U.S. Patent Office Web site.

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Q: If you already own a Web site domain name, why would you copyright it?

A: A domain name is not the type of subject matter that is covered by the federal copyright laws. Thus, copyright protection is not available. To obtain enforceable rights against use by a third party, reliance must be upon the rights available under the common law of trademarks, the state law of trademarks or the federal trademark laws. Depending on the extent an nature of the business associated with the domain name, one or more of the bodies of trademark law may be the appropriate vehicle for acquiring rights of exclusivity in the domain name. To be eligible to benefit under one or more of these three bodies of trademark law, actual publication and use of the domain name (common law) or filing for state of federal registration must be undertaken.

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Q: Why should you contact the von Hellens Law Firm to assist you in establishing protection for your domain name?

A: The extent and nature of rights available and the requirements to qualify therefore under any of the three bodies of trademark law should be well understood, including whether the domain name is of the type and character for which exclusive trademark protection can be obtained and the breadth of such protection.

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