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On Line for Independent Inventors (23JUL2009)

This is a transcript of the on-line chat held on Thursday, July 23, 2009. This final version is an edited version of the actual transcript. Where you see “edited answer” below, the original on-line chat answer has been modified to ensure completeness and accuracy of the answers originally provided by USPTO staff.

As in our previous chats held so far, we received hundreds more questions then we had time to answer. We selected questions for posting which we believed would be of interest to others besides the author of the question. Once we selected the question, we developed the answer, and then posted the question and the answer for viewing by the public. During the actual chat, occasionally the answer was actually posted before the public saw the question. This edited transcript always has the question before the answer. In reviewing the transcript below, if you see the time of the answer before the time of the question, we originally posted them out of sequence.

Kingcj:  Hello and Good Day, My first question is, I have an idea that someone else just patented that is very similar to mine but my idea has some varing differences, can i still gain a patent to compete?

Expert 72: EDITED ANSWER  Kingcj – You may obtain a patent for your claimed invention provided the conditions for patentability are satisfied.  That is, your claimed invention must be:

  • Directed to subject matter that is eligible for patent protection;
  • Useful;
  • Novel; and
  • Non-obvious.

It is advisable that you consult with a patent practitioner regarding the filing of a patent application and how your claims should be drafted such that the claims are patentable over the prior art.

Kathy Torjman:  what is the difference between a provisional and non-provisional patent?  We're looking into a design patent for an idea.

Expert 50: EDITED ANSWER A provisional application (not a patent) is a place holder that is good for one year from the filing date.  A non-provisional application is examined and can become a patent once approved by the examiner.  A provisional application filing date can be used for the earliest effective filing date of a non-provisional application that claims the benefit of the earlier filed provisional application under 35 U.S.C. 119(e).  It is advisable that you consult with a patent practitioner, before filing any application with the USPTO.  A design patent covers the ornamental design of a product. Note also that a design application may not claim the benefit of an earlier filed provisional application (see 35 U.S.C. 172). 

Krissy: I've heard you have a year to patent your idea from the time you first sell your invention. Do you have a year from the time you first sell the invention to the time your patent is finalized, or a year from the time you first sell to when you file a patent application? 

Expert 52: Krissy---you have one year from the time you first sell to file your patent application. 

EiJoe: If my business is located in the state of SC, and I offer my common law trademark products/services via the Internet, am I protected under common law throughout the USA? Since 1999, I've had well over a million visitors to my web site from all over the USA! 

Expert 25: That's a very subjective question that's highly dependent on all of the facts involved. It would be best for you to consult your own trademark counsel to whom you can describe all aspects of your situation 

Matt: What is the best way to start the application process for a trademark, and do you have to be associated to a business to do it? Or can an individual be tied to it? 

Expert 25: If by being a business you mean do you have to be a corporation, that's not a requirement. An individual can apply to register a trademark. The best thing to do is go to the USPTO Web site - www.uspto.gov - there is an enormous amount of information about how to apply for and maintain a trademark registration. 

Jim: What are the risks of working with invention development companies? 

Expert 50: Invention marketing companies can be good or they can be bad.  You need to check out any company carefully.  Consult the Inventor Resource Page at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/iip/index.htm. You will find questions that are required to be answered by any invention marketing company 

Dan: If you want to apply for a patent and trademark for an invention, do they need to be filed separately? 

Expert 25:  They are separate filings with requirements specific to each procedure. 

int: what are the remedies available when a patent examiner puts forth frivolous objections i.e. words that may be similar to another's claims etc.? 

Expert 72: EDITED ANSWER Int: It is not clear whether your so-called “frivolous objections” are objections or rejections made by the examiner. There are differences between “rejections” and “objections.” “Rejections” are the refusal to grant claims because the subject matter claimed is considered unpatentable. Rejections are appealable to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (Board). On the other hand, if the form of a claim (as distinguished from its substance) is improper, an “objection” would be made. See MPEP § 706.01 at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/mpep_e8r6_0700.pdf.  “Objections” are petitionable to the Director of the USPTO and are not subject to review by the Board.

Note that if you think an interview with the examiner will help clarify specific issues and thereby advance the prosecution of the application, you may request an interview with the examiner to discuss the “frivolous objections.” 

LEOTHELIONHEARTED2: How do I determine whether an invention company will assist we bringing my invention to fruition or steal my invention?

Expert 50: Fraudulent invention marketing companies do not want to steal your invention; what they are after is your money. It is too much work to take your product to market when they can easily take your money. 

EiJoe: Expert25, may I comment further on my previous question? 

Expert 25: Yes - with the proviso that we cannot give legal advice.O 

Craig : I heard that means-plus-funtion claims need to be supported in the specification.  Question, does that mean that the components/hardware items mentioned in the means/function claims need to be also mentioned in the specification? 

Expert 62: EDITED ANSWER Craig - Yes, it is true. If you are going to use means-plus-function language in a claim, the corresponding structure or material of the means-plus-function limitation must be disclosed in the specification such that one skilled in the art will understand what structure or material will perform the recited function. 

steve:  I am as new as it gets to the process of pantenting. What would you recommend as the best method of research to patent a product that I would like to market towards the government? 

Expert 50: There are multiple resources that will help you through product assessment to find out if your idea/invention has marketability. Some of those can be found at www.uiausa.org

Ivon: I s there a place to find patent attorneys as well? 

Expert 50: You can search for registered patent attorneys/agents by state, city, etc using https://oedci.uspto.gov/OEDCI/ 

EiJoe: Expert25, what is considered 'use' of a trademarks in Interstate commerce? 

Expert 25: That too is a question that is highly dependent on your specific fact pattern. It is best discussed with your own trademark counsel. 

Ivon: How soon will all this great informaiton be available since we conferencing now, will this be like the previos transcripts? 

Expert 25: (14:16) Yes - the transcript of this session will be available in the next 2-3 weeks. 

Ivon: Do you offer workshops to make the process known or easier to follow, like a "dummies" booklet? 

Expert 50: You can find that information at various Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries and on our Web site at http://www.uspto.gov/go/ptdl/eventschedule.html 

Ivon: Can inventors check the credentials of Invention Companies, like the BBB, do you have something like that? 

Expert 62: Yes, an inventor can go to our Web site at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/iip/complaints.htm and view complaints that have been filed against Invention Promotion Companies 

Ted Bullock 2: DO you treat inventors with attorneys and inventors without attorneys differently with respect to process? 

Expert 50: No, all are treated equally. 

Drew: Is there more to claiming Small Entity Status than checking the box on the Fee Transmittal Form?

Expert 90: No, simply checking the box on the Fee Transmittal Form and including the appropriate fees for small entity is sufficient to establish Small Entity Status. 

Marina: Is there design patent specific phone number for assistance? 

Expert 50: No; these calls are handled by the Inventors Assistance Center at 1-800-PTO-9199. 

Carolina Cairo: I need to find out how to verified if a logo is registered 

Expert 25: You can search marks that have been registered or applied to be registered in the USPTO by searching the USPTO database. That is available at the USPTO website - it's called the TESS system. 

Drew: (14:21) I had a law firm (expensive) do a patent search.  They came up with 5 patents in the ballpark, but I am confident mine is patentable, could I petition to make special my application to accelerate the time?  That would help in my search for a manufacturer. 

Expert 62: Yes, provided that you can meet the requirements set forth for accelerated examination set forth in MPEP § 708.02(a) at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/documents/0700_708_02_a.htm#sect708.02a 

fasteh: It is now about 31 months from my priortity date, and I was recently told that I'm #43 on an examiners list to look at.  From the USPTO issued patents data, it appears this examiner is the assistant on two patents a month.  Do I have any hope at having my first Office action within three years? 

Expert 52: (14:21) fasteh---the examiner assigned to your application should be able to estimate when the application will be taken up for examination.  Issued patents data is not a clear indicator of the number of new applications that an examiner takes up for examination in a given month.  That is, the prosecution of some applications is longer than for others, and not every patent application ultimately results in a granted patent. 

Sabra: my product will be used internationaly,  Do i patent it only in the US first and then International or do i apply globaly? 

Expert 50: You need to file a patent application of some sort (e.g., provisional, non-provisional) in the United States first and then file either country by country or through the Patent Cooperation Treaty. It is suggested that you contact a registered patent practitioner for assistance in filing any application, especially those with international consideration. 

Wayne: what is the purpose of filing a terminal disclaimer for my patent?  How does that effect the expiration date? 

Expert 72: EDITED ANSWER Wayne:  A terminal disclaimer is generally filed to overcome a non-statutory double patenting rejection.  See 37 CFR 1.321(c).  The effect of the terminal disclaimer is that the later patent will expire at the same time as the earlier patent and that the later patent will be enforceable only as long as both patents are commonly owned. See also MPEP § 1490 at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/mpep_e8r7_1400.pdf 

Love312: I would like to patent my own business name and need to know the first step in doing so....this is my own personal business 

Expert 90: The name of a business is not subject to patent protection; however, you may be able to obtain a trademark for your business name or logo.  You can visit the following website to obtain more information on filing an application for a trademark: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/tac/doc/basic/index.html 

Margaret: If I have a patent for the process used to operate my product, but not a patent on the product, can my product be duplicated to be used for the same purpose for which I have the process patent 

Expert 50: No, it can't be duplicated to be used for the process for which you have the process patent; however, it can be duplicated to be used for a different process. 

George: Wouldn’t it be a good idea if the USPTO developed a two page NDA that novice inventors could present to prospective manufacturers and prototype craftsmen to have some protection against product theft? 

Expert 62: No, the USPTO cannot develop a non-disclosure agreement for use by the public because these are contractual situations and each one is different and would require both a business and legal judgment. 

william: Is there any way to find out where an application is in the waiting list to get examined without formally having to file a request status form? 

Expert 72: William:  In order to inquire about the status of the examination of an application you may contact the SPE of the art unit to which it is assigned.  They should be able to give an estimate of when the application may be examined. 

Eric Huang: We have two independent inventors, can we assign the patenr rights to one of them only? 

Expert 62: Yes, a patent can be assigned to any individual.  It can even be assigned to a corporation. 

Ted Bullock:  Do you have a regular registration system for  notification of call like this - I just found out at the last minute quite by accident? 

Expert 50: We typically post a notice on our home page at least one week in advance of our online chats and they normally occur once every two months. Transcripts of earlier on line chats are available on our independent inventors Web page at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/com/iip/onlineiip.htm

JDixon: What's the cost to file a patent? 

Expert 90: The following Web site will give you basic information with regard to filing a patent application:  http://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/howtopat.htm .  In addition, the following Web site provides the current listing of fees for patent-related services: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/qs/ope/fee2009january01_2009may01.htm#patapp 

Geo: I invent approximately 3 things a week. I can't afford even the $100 small entity fee to patent them. How can I combine multiple inventions into one patent through claims. How must claims be linked. expalin about separate claims in one patent please. 

Expert 50: EDITED ANSWER If you have multiple inventions claimed in a single application, a patent examiner may require you to choose a single invention for substantive examination.  This is called “restriction practice.”

It is not clear what fee you are referring to that is $100.  A listing of fees for the filing of a nonprovisional application is available at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/qs/ope/fee2009january01_2009may01.htm#patapp 

Wayne: what differentiates a dependent claim from an independent claim or a multiple dependent claim? 

Expert 62: EDITED ANSWER An independent claim is one that doesn’t refer to another claim. A dependent claim is one that refers to a previous claim and specifies a further limitation of the subject matter claimed.  A multiple dependent claim is a claim that refers to more than one previous claim in the alternative only.  Please see MPEP § 608.01(n) at http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/documents/0600_608_01_n.htm#sect608.01n 

anthony: my invention will be marketed as an adult novelty but i'm having trouble finding leads that will help me with my invention..will it be more difficult for me to find resources because I am dealing with an adult novelty? 

Expert 50: All inventors regardless of the invention have difficulty finding solid "leads" to help them get into the marketplace. It is suggested that you do as much research into this area as possible looking for companies that deal in whatever product you have invented. This information should easily be found on the internet. 

fasteh: The first time I talked to my examiner, he wouldn't give an estimate as to when he would look at my patent.  Also he said I should deal with him through my attorney in the future.  Of ccourse my attorney is $400 per hour, and not needed for questions like this. 

Expert 52: fasteh---you may make inquiries as to the status of an application at any time.  If the examiner is unable to provide an estimate for when an action can be expected then you should contact the examiner's supervisor. 

John: Do you recommend working with an attorney, or going at it alone for a patent marketed to the car wash industry? 

Expert 62:  EDITED ANSWERS Yes, we recommend that you work with a registered patent attorney or agent.  However, there is no requirement that you use the services of a registered patent attorney/agent. A list of the registered practitioners in your area can be found at https://oedci.uspto.gov/oedci/ 

smeena: my attorney is asking for 5000.00 to file for "patent pending" can I save money by doing it my self? 

Expert 50: You can save money by doing it yourself; however, registered patent attorneys and agents have been trained to specifically write patent applications and prosecute them under the rules of the USPTO. For someone to prosecute their own application, there are multiple pitfalls where they may make mistakes and jeopardize their patent rights.

EiJoe: If a trademark application is abandoned, can it be revived? if so, what is the time frame allowed? 

Expert 25: It can be revived but the action must be taken within 60 days of knowledge of the abandonment. The form for reviving abandoned trademark applications is available at the USPTO website. 

Mvetter: does a provisional patent provide protection against being copied in the first year 

Expert 50: EDITED ANSWER A provisional patent application does not get examined and does not issue as a patent. However, once you file your provisional application, you may put “patent pending” on your product for 1 year unless you file a nonprovisional application within 1 year from the filing of your provisional application. The phrase “patent pending” has no legal effect, but only gives information that an application for patent has been filed in the USPTO. The protection afforded by a patent does not start until the actual grant of a patent. 

ace711mi: i have an invention, i just need to know how to patent it and make it mine? 

Expert 90: It is recommended that you contact the Inventors Assistance Center at 800-PTO-9199(800-786-9199) for assistance. 

clint: The USPTO practioner exam includes an online MPEP.  Does this MPEP include the subject matter index as included at the back of the paper copy MPEP? 

Expert 72: Clint:  Yes.  The subject matter index is included with the online version of the MPEP.

Tom Jackson:  What is the present average backlog in months to first office action from date of filing? 

Expert 52: Tom Jackson---the average time to a first action on the merits is dependent on the technology of the claimed subject mattter.  Some technologies have a backlog of less than 18 months while others have a backlog in excess of 36 months. 

Marina:  What are the stages for design patent process? 

Expert 62: Design patent applications are governed by the same patent law and rules as utility applications; however there are special rules that are applicable to design applications.  The stages of examination are very much the same as the stages for a utility application.  There is the filing of the application, the examination of the application, and then allowance, abandonment or appeal of the application. 

Kathy Torjman: is there a specific type of patent needed for an item being sold over the internet as well as in stores? 

Expert 50:  EDITED ANSWER Whether an item is sold over the Internet and/or in stores does not affect what type of patent protection you want. You can get either a utility or a design patent for protection for items sold in a store or over the internet. A utility patent covers how things work, what they are made from, how they are made, etc; regardless of where it is sold. A design patent protects the ornamental features of a product regardless of where it is sold. 

int: I understand the patent is granted for twenty years from the date of filing. But if it takes two -three or even more years to overcome the objections of the patent examiner can that time lost be added on to the twenty years period? 

Expert 50: There is a provision in the law to adjust the patent term if there is a delay in the processing of the application by the patent office. There are specific time frames spelled out in the law and any adjustment will be automatically calculated and added to the term on issuance of a patent. 

Dee: After you file for a patent, how soon will the USPTO let you know if your invention qualifies for a patent? 

Expert 52: Dee---for the time it takes for an application to be first taken up for examination, please see the response to Tom Jackson's question.  Thereafter, the length of time an application is under examination depends on the individual circumstances of the application. 

ron: can I trademark a title of a film script? 

Expert 25: The title of a film script is considered the title of a single work and, as such, does not qualify for trademark registration. A trademark must be used on a line of goods that let the public know that all of the goods that bear that trademark emanate from the same source. The title of a single film script does not do that. 

Monica 2: Is it possible to patent the design of an article of clothing? I am referring to the sewing pattern, not any graphic pattern on the cloth itself. 

Expert 50: Yes, it is possible to obtain a patent for the sewing pattern for an article of clothing as long it is meets the standards of being new, useful and nonobvious. 

William:  What does SPE stand for 

Expert 72: William: SPE stands for Supervisory Patent Examiner.  You may contact them by looking up their name using this link: http://portal.uspto.gov/external/portal/emlocator.  To determine what art unit your application has been assigned to, you may call: 1-800-786-9199 

Marina: Does jewelry design qualify under Design Patent category? 

Expert 50: Yes, you may obtain a design patent for a jewelry design. 

 int: When a patent is issued in one jurisdiction for example Canada can someone else file and obtain a similar patent in the USA? 

Expert 62: EDITED ANSWER If you obtain a patent in Canada, whether someone else can obtain a “similar” patent in the United States will depend on what subject matter is being claimed in the U.S. application.  If the claimed subject matter in the U.S. application is the same as what is disclosed in the Canadian patent, then 35 U.S.C. 102(a) or (b) may prevent the person from obtaining a U.S. patent. 35 U.S.C. 102 states in part that “[a] person shall be entitled to a patent unless

(a) the invention was known or used by others in this country, or patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country, before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent, or

(b) the invention was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country…more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States.”

If the subject matter being claimed in the U.S. application is not the same as that disclosed in the Canadian patent but is obvious from the Canadian patent, 35 U.S.C. 103 may prevent the person from obtaining a patent in the U.S.]   

Possible: Q2 - Can I re-patent a Tesla process that has previosly been patented IF there is a revision in the Laws of Physics? 

Expert 50: You can not re-patent a process to do the same thing. If there is a new process for the use of something already patented, a patent can be obtained for the new process. For example, if you can find a new use for water, you can get a patent on that new use. 

marlee: If we combine an existing word with a suffix to create a new word, could we trademark that and sell it on t-shirts? 

Expert 25: So long as it isn't similar to someone else's mark that has already been registered or applied for.  A made up word can be registered as a trademark. 

int: How do I file a patent application and keep it confidential i.e. can the patent office be restricted from publicly disclosing the contents of the application? 

Expert 72: EDITED ANSWER Int:  You may file a Non-Publication Request at the time of filing to prevent the application from being published at 18 months, however if the patent is granted it will become public. 

 Mvetter: Can you patent something that is already being done but is not patented? 

Expert 62: EDITED ANSWER Prior art does not have to be from patent documents.  35 U.S.C. 102 states in part that “[a] person shall be entitled to a patent unless

(a) the invention was known or used by others in this country…before the invention thereof by the applicant for patent, or

(b) the invention was…in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States.”

If the subject matter that is being claimed in the U.S. application was known or used by others in the U.S. (35 U.S.C. 102(a)) or was in public use or on sale in the U.S. more than one year prior to the filing date of the U.S. application (35 U.S.C. 102(b)), you will be prevented from obtaining a patent on the subject matter even if the subject matter has not be patented yet.]     

Jay: I want to trademark the name Compass Books, but I see there is already a Compass Book.  Are those to close in name to trademark? 

Expert 25: The difference between the plural and singular forms of a word is usually not considered adequate to avoid a likelihood of confusion between the terminologies. 

Z: What process need to be done in order to know whether a product qualifies as a patent before paying the provisional application fee 

Expert 50: EDITED ANSWER The first thing an inventor should do is to do a thorough search of the prior art documents.  This includes for example, published patents and published patent applications. U.S. patents and U.S. patent application publications can be searched from our Web site at www.uspto.gov.  You can also go to one of the Patent Depository Libraries (PTDLs) located nationwide and Puerto Rico and have a qualified and experienced staff help you with your search of the patent databases. By doing a search, you should find similar if not identical products or ideas. 

Ivon: Is ther any cap on how many patents may be issued? 

Expert 50: No. 

Jay: If I lengthen the name to Compass Books & Bibles, would that be sufficiently different to trademark? 

Expert 25: You’re asking for legal advice.  The difference between marks and the possibility of one registering over the existence of another is something that should be discussed with your own private trademark counsel. We are not permitted to give legal advice. 

smeena: can i get utility as before a design patent? 

Expert 50: You can file a utility patent application and then a design patent application; a design patent application and then a utility patent application; or you can file both a design and utility patent application at the same time. These two types of patent applications provide different types of protection. 

Geo:  if I have been using a name on line for years with trademarking it can someone else come in and trademark it? do oyur trademakr examiners at least do a quick internet search for the name say in a url before allowing a trademark? 

Expert 25: You may have common law rights, but protection of them would have to be pursued privately.  The USPTO does not get involved with common law rights. The Examining Attorneys in the USPTO look only in the USPTO records for registered marks or those that have been applied for registration prior to the application being worked on. They do not look on the Internet for common law use of possibly similar marks. 

Yolanda Bowers: Are patent drawing requirements different than 20 years ago? I used to draw patent drawings for a company and now have my patent idea. 

Expert 52: Yolanda Bowers---the requirements have changed over time.   Please refer to the rules regarding the drawings in the Manual of Patent Examining Procedure, particularly Rules 1.81, 1.83, and 1.84 at this link: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/documents/appxr.htm 

Monica 2: is there a way to search patent applications online? 

Expert 50: Yes, you can search published patent applications filed on or after 12/29/1999 on the USPTO Web site at http://patft.uspto.gov/ 

ron: I have every intention to sell goods under the film name, so in that case which trademark should I file?  Do I need to wait for goods to start to sell?  Or can I file immediately?

Expert 25: You can file under the intent-to-use provisions of the Trademark Act. Consult the USPTO Web site for information concerning filing an application for a mark that you have an intention to use on goods or services in the future. 

Geo: hmmm.. can you file a non publication request on a provisional patent? 

Expert 72: EDITED ANSWER Geo:  No. Provisional applications are not published. If you want to file a non publication request, you will need to file the request in a nonprovisional application. 

Craig: What type of USPTO Office Actions, requiring a one-month/30-day response, are not extendable by paying a fee? 

Expert 90: There are very few Office Actions that fit such a category.  The Manual of Patent Examining Procedure (MPEP) provides guidance on the appropriate periods of response at sections 710+.  It lists which replies to Office Actions are extendable or not.  You may access the MPEP at the following link: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/mpep.htm 

Antoinette 2: Is everything ever patented in the US listed on the US Patent Office website?.  I ask the question because I have read that after a person has performed an online patent search of an item, one should also consult with a patent search agent to perform a more thorough search. 

Expert 62: If you need assistance with searching the USPTO database, you should go to your local Patent and Trademark Depository Library. The personnel there can lead you to resources that can help you understand the language used in patents as well as patent attorneys and agents who can assist you. The URL for the libraries is http://www.uspto.gov//web/offices/ac/ido/ptdl/index.html 

Sabra: at what point can i start manufacturing my product after i have submitted my patent application 

Expert 50: You can begin making your product even before you file your application as long as you file your application within one year of public disclosure, sale or offer for sale. However, having an application filed at the USPTO provides your competitors with a fair warning if you mark your product patent pending. 

Byron: How do i begin the process of getting an idea patent? 

Expert 62: The Inventors Assistance Center 1-800-786-9199 can send you basic information on filing patent applications. Our Web site http://www.uspto.gov/ also has information on the patent process. Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries (locations on our Web site) can also provide you with information. In addition, local independent inventor organizations are a good resource to help you get started with patenting and promoting your invention. 

Geo: expert72 but do you get the backward protection time of the unpublished provisonal patent as you normally would if it was published?RE: If you file an Non-Publication request in your non-provisional application the provisional application will not be published until the non-provisional application is patented. 

Expert 72: Geo:  Yes. 

Geo: expert 50: isn't the US still on a "first to file" system rahter than first o invent? RE:You can begin making your product even before you file your application as long as you file your application within one year of public disclosure, sale or offer for sale. However, having an application filed at the USPTO provides your competitors with a fair warning if you mark your product patent pending. 

Expert 50: The United States patent system is still a first to invent system. 

Ted Bullock: Where is the definition of Utility vs design patents? 

Expert 90: The following Website provides the information regarding utility and design patents: http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/doc/general/index.html#patent 

Maria E. Lomelin: can you answer my question please? 

Expert 50: Please re-submit your question. Thank you. 

Lene24: If someone has a patented product, but you have improvements to that product and would like to launch a product with the improvements and patent that new product, is that allowed? 

Expert 62: EDITED ANSWER It may be possible to get a patent on an improvement to an existing patented product.  You would need to file an application on the improvement. The application will be examined by an examiner and if the claims are patentable, a patent will issue. 

Wayne 2: if my US patent is related to a PCT application, and I receive findings from the PCT citing documents that are considered relevant to that PCT application, how should this be reported to the USPTO? 

Expert 72: EDITED ANSWER Wayne 2:  You may report relevant information found in the PCT application by filing an Information Disclosure Statement (IDS) in the US application. See MPEP § 609+ regarding information on IDS (http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/mpep/mpep_e8r7_0600.pdf) 

Sabra: Expert 50 ... what do you mean by public disclosure, sale or offer for sale. 

Expert 50: Public disclosure means that you have told at least one other person about your invention and there is no confidentiality agreement; offering for sale means that you have placed it in front of someone and asked them if they want to buy it. Selling means that you have exchanged your product for something of monetary value. 

Chat - July 23, 2009: (15:01) Thank you to all that joined the chat today, as always we received far more questions than we can answer.  If you did not see your question posted, please visit our FAQ’s from previous chats or contact our Inventors Assistance Center at 1-800-786-9199.  Our next chat will be September 2009 and the exact date will be posted on the USPTO homepage.  The transcript from today will be in about 2 – 3 weeks on the USPTO homepage.  Join us in November for our 14th Annual Independent Inventors Conference here at the USPTO campus, additional information will be posted on the homepage as well.

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