What a Paralegal should know about Patent Law

Paralegals specializing in the field of patent law are in demand, especially in today’s advanced IT-dominated business environment.

Large multinational corporations have started a revolution of inventing and reinventing products and services to suit both the needs and wants of consumers. Therefore, the need for qualified patent law experts has become greater than ever.

A patent is a type of intangible asset that grants exclusive rights to an inventor or his/her assignee to produce and distribute a particular invention over a limited period of time.

According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent is “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention/creation licensed by an inventor.

Patent law is a very challenging and convoluted field. Hence, paralegals who are interested in entering patent law should be armed with sufficient knowledge and information regarding the existing patent laws and the standard procedures in applying for a patent.

In order for a certain product or service (invention) to be eligible for patent, it should be useful to consumers. The term “useful” here refers to having a purpose in technical, mechanical and industrial processes and industries.

Another thing that paralegals should look into is the uniqueness of the product or the service being patented. A major reason why many patent applications get rejected is because the invention is very similar to an existing product or service out in the market.

An invention eligible for a patent should also be detailed and comprehensive. According to HowtoPatentanIdea.net, a product or service, in order to be patented, should “not represent a simple idea, thought or suggestion.”

In addition to knowing what products and services can be patented, paralegals should also be aware of the common kinds of patents. There are three kinds of patents according to their nature – utility patents, patents for design and plant patents.

Utility patents are the most common, because it refers to patents or commercial products, services, machines and industrial processes among others. Basically, utility patents are the patents for invention. Needless to say, patent law paralegals should focus more on this kind of patent.

Design patents are a 14-year patent issued for a “new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture.” On the other hand, the plant patent is a patent associated with the discovery of either an animal or plant specie.  

A job in the field of patent law can be very lucrative. However, the challenges and responsibilities can be extremely daunting.

Paralegals should scrutinize all the legalities and legitimacy of a potential patent. Paralegals should also make constant efforts to gain as much knowledge as they can about patent law.