Frequently Asked Online Questions About Patents.
This area contains FAQ's for you to learn from. Please read this area before you submit a patent question to us generated from our web sites, INVENTIONAID.COM and 123PATENT.COM.

QUESTION : What's the difference between filing a patent application and a provisional patent application? As I see it, both protect you for a year while you can conduct research, yet it appears that the provisional patent costs money. Do you submit one or the other? Is there a fee for filing a patent application? Is it cheaper, more expensive?

ANSWER : In response to your questions, please understand that a provisional patent and a utility patent provide the same protection. However, the provisional patent lasts only one year, CANNOT BECOME A PATENT and cannot be renewed. It also costs only a $75 government fee plus $300 for our services. A Utility patent CAN BECOME A PATENT. It will be pending for approximately two years, during which you mark your device "Patent Pending" and, when issued. is good for 17 years. However, to obtain a Utility patent costs approximately $6,000 -8,000 in government fees and attorneys fees. Therefore, my recommendation is to file the provisional application first and, before your year expires, follow up with the Utility application, if it seems appropriate.

QUESTION : I would like to patent my idea and I have couple of questions related to patenting. Please clarify. 1. I have an idea related to Information Technology industry. The idea can be implemented by developing an application program. Can I patent this ? 2. I am a citizen of India and staying in US on a VISA. This is a work permit VISA. I am not a citizen of the USA. Can I patent my idea in USA ? If so is the patent valid in any country ?

ANSWER : In response to your questions, please be advised that you do not need to be a U.S. citizen in order to file a U.S. patent. The patents issued by any country apply only to that country. Since you gave almost no information about your invention, I can only answer your question about patentability in the very broadest terms. I gather that your invention relates to a computer program. If the program involves hardware, it is possible to patent it, however, if it is purely software, it can only be protected by copyright.

QUESTION : I am considering the provisional patent for a new medical device. Could you please tell me what the timetable is for securing the "patent pending" number and follow-up from the USPTO. I wish to send information to you for filing regarding the product when I hear back from you. In closing, do you have a service in which you provide assistance in negotiating with the company or companies who express an interest in such a product?

ANSWER : As soon as the Patent Office receives your provisional application, you are "Patent Pending" for a period of one year. If you have us prepare your Provisional Application, it is usually filed within two - three weeks of the time we receive your order. I do not participate in contract negotiations, but will be happy to review a proposed contract and give you my comments. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me via

QUESTION : I am a game designer and I have a question regarding patents and board games. I have designed a board game and actually sold a few through word of mouth. I'm interested now in protecting the game, but I'm not sure whether or not I would pursue a design patent, utility patent, or a provisional patent? The game board and pieces are made out of wood, but the shape of the board and actual game play is unique. Also, would I need a copyright for the rule book and art work?

ANSWER : My recommendation is that you file a Provisional Patent Application covering your game and also copyright the game board design, instructions1 etc. It is very difficult to obtain a utility patent on a board game, although I have done it. After you have filed your Provisional Application, we can discuss the possibility of your obtaining a utility patent.

QUESTION : What i would like to know is if I use a tool and make a few modifications to it and it seem's to be what want what kind of patent would be best.

ANSWER : If you have made a structural change to the tool and claim an advantage from that change, this is a basis for patentability. You could probably obtain a utility patent on such a change. However, you should file a Provisional Application first. In order to give you a more specific answer, I would need to know the details of your invention.

QUESTION : First of all I would like to inform you that your site impressed me much. I found a lot of helpful info about patents and eventually made the decision to ask you for help & service in order to acquire a patent. Short info about me: I am not a US citizen, I have an idea I am going to patent. It is NOT yet patented somewhere else, neither I found a similar patent during my own fast patent search. I don't think I am speaking about a provisional patent (otherwise you'll recommend me to try a provisional patent first). I'd like to ask you to provide me the necessary steps and recommendations in order to initiate the process.

ANSWER : We always recommend filing a provisional application first because it is the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to become "Patent Pending". As soon as the Patent Office receive your application your ARE "Patent Pending" for a period of one year, after which, the application expires and cannot be renewed. Also, a provisional application CANNOT become a patent. Before your provisional application expires, you must file a utility patent application. This CAN become a patent, but is much more expensive. We charge $4000, plus the $355 government filing fee and draftsman's fee, for preparing a utility application. Also, once your utility application is filed, the Patent Office will usually issue an Office Action saying that you can't have a patent because of such and such earlier patents. We are allowed to argue with them. However, We charge $750 for each such argument. Finally, if you are going to get a patent, there is a $620 government issue fee and We charge $1000 to follow the case through and be certain that they DO issue the patent.

QUESTION : I stay in India. I would be thankful if you could help me with a question I have in mind. As people patent products can they also patent any new services which they have thought of? That is can they receive a royalty from a person who is utilizing their invented services or can they sell their patented service to a company which is ready to buy it?

ANSWER : Please be advised that it is sometimes possible to patent services, however, it is quite difficult. The types of services which can be patent are too complex to explain here. I suggest that you contact me direct via our web site to discuss this. In a private conversation, you could safely reveal the details of your proposed service and I could advise you more specifically.

QUESTION : I like to protect an internet business idea for which I have registered a .com address. It is just an idea, not a product. What should I do? Please advise.

ANSWER : In response to your question to, my suggestion is that you file a provisional application and, afterwards, contact me to discuss the possibility of filing a utility application before your provisional application expires.

QUESTION : Are patents, provisionals, trademarks and copyrights transferable?

ANSWER : In response to your questions to, please be advised that patents, applications (Provisional and utility), trademarks and copyrights ARE transferable. They are all "property", just like real estate, and can be transferred by an assignment, which should be recorded with the appropriate government agency.

QUESTION : I have an invention and a provisional patent on it. I have also kept records on it with signatures + a disclosure. I'm not sure as how to approach companies. Some of the Companies are in different states. How would I show my invention to them? Also, I found their addresses from looking on their packages that are already in the stores. I'm not sure how to find places that would want it. I had tried to do a patent search, but don't know how to find anything or should I say I can't find what I am looking for. I am really excited about this, but I also understand that it doesn't mean you will get rich or that is doesn't take time. Is it a good idea to have someone else find the companies on a contingent fee?

ANSWER : In response to your question to, my suggestion for marketing your invention would be to talk to a S.C.O.R.E. counselor. S.C.O.R.E. is the Service Corps Of Retired Executives. All of the counselors have been top executives in industry who have retired and now volunteer their time to help people like you start a business and make it grow. They can be a great help.

QUESTION : Are you a registered patent attorney? What is your area of specialty?

ANSWER : In response to your question to, please be advised that I am a registered patent attorney and have been practicing since 1952. Also, my father and uncle were patent attorneys before that. I believe that my resume is on our web site. My primary specialty is electronics, however, I have successfully prosecuted patent applications in medical, chemical, mechanical and nuclear fields, as well as lasers and aerospace.

QUESTION : After I file for a provisional on your site does the patent number come to me directly or does it go through your office?

ANSWER : In response to your question to, the application number comes to our office and we will promptly notify you when we receive it. However, for the provisional patent application, you are "Patent Pending: from the time the Patent Office receives your application. When we mail your application to the Patent Office, we will notify you and will advise you when we receive official confirmation.

QUESTION : I am a manufacture of Propane buffers have been in business since 1986. I have a machine I think is a patentable machine. My concern is cost of a patent and if it would be to our benefit. I heard that if I do spend the limited funds that other bigger manufacturers would just change a few things and copy it anyway. Can you tell me if this is true? Also how much would it cost for a patent? My machine is unique but I have very limited resources.

ANSWER : In response to your question to, we believe that filing a patent application and, hence, being able to mark your device "Patent Pending" is of greater value than actually having the patent since no one can find out exactly what you are seeking to protect. Also, filing a provisional patent application is the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to obtain protection for your invention. It costs only $80, if you file it yourself or $300, if you have us file it for you. However, the provisional patent application lasts for ONLY ONE YEAR, after which, it expires and cannot be renewed. If you wish to extend your protection beyond that date, you must file a utility patent application. A utility application CAN become a patent, but costs considerably more. We charge $4000, plus the government fee and draftsman's fee for preparing a utility application and it will cost you an additional $2000- 3000 over about five years.

QUESTION : Can an individual copyright or patent a phrase? If so, is the same process and costs involved as patenting or an invention?

ANSWER : In response to your question to, the appropriate protection for a phrase depends upon how you are using the phrase. If you are using it in a trademark sense, you would protect it as a trademark. If you are using it as artistic matter, you might protect it by copyright. If you will tell us what the phrase is and how you are using it, we can give you a more specific answer.

QUESTION : Thanks for your interesting and helpful web site. When using your online provisional patent application service, do you make any rewrite of the patent description, or just forward to description as it is to the patent office ? If you do not make any editing of the description, and do not write it in the form of claims, do I get a real protection for my patent? Or in other words, will I be able to protect my patent based on the filing date of the provisional patent if someone else will come out with a product to the market before I will file the full patent? My concern is from a situation where I will discuss the patent with other companies, and if my provisional patent description will not be accurate and not written using the right language, I will not be able to protect my rights. I would appreciate your help on clarifying this issue before proceeding with the provisional patent application Another question about trademark registration: The trademark is used with software commercially available for free only on the Internet. What can I use as specimens?

ANSWER : In response to your questions to, we usually use the description which you provide for provisional applications. The description should be sufficiently complete to enable "one skilled in the art" to make and use the invention. Filing the provisional application allows you to mark your invention "Patent Pending" for one year, but cannot become a patent. Before the end of that year, you should file a utility patent application, which CAN become a patent. By filing the utility application BEFORE THE EXPIRATION of the provisional application, the effective filing date of the utility application is the same as that of the provisional. Thus, if someone comes up with the same invention between the time you file the provisional and the time you file the utility application, you would win. In order to get such continuity, the provisional application must provide at least a general disclosure of the invention covered by the utility application,however, it is not necessary that the provisional application cover every last detail of what is claimed in the utility application. In regard to trademark registration of a mark used only on the Internet, I would expect that you could print pages from the Internet showing your use of the mark and that these could be used as specimens.

QUESTION : If I have what I believe is a new invention, should I first file a PROVISIONAL or should I first do the search.

ANSWER : In response to your question to, I strongly recommend that you file the provisional application and NOT make a search. As stated in the "Searches" section of the free information on our web site, I believe that, once you have made an invention, you want to take it from concept to cash. Making a search does not help do that and, in fact, can hurt you. In contrast, filing a patent application DOES help.

QUESTION : How do I know which type of patent I need? My idea has to do with using an energy source that is already patented, so would I need a design patent or a utility patent?

ANSWER : In response to your question to, please be advised that you would need a provisional or utility patent application for your idea. If you have altered or modified the patented energy source and claim to get an advantage from the alteration or modification, that would be a basis for a utility patent. A design patent covers appearance ONLY!

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