Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a patent agent and a patent attorney?

The main requirements to practice patent law before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), notwithstanding receiving proper on-the-job training, are: a) sufficient knowledge of relevant technology and science, and b) passing a registration-to-practice examination administered by the USPTO. Being a licensed attorney is neither necessary nor sufficient to practice. The USPTO maintains separate rolls of patent agents and patent attorneys. A person who holds a registration to practice and who is not an attorney is called a patent agent. A person who holds a registration to practice and who is also licensed by a state bar association to practice law is called a patent attorney.

Practice of patent law before the USPTO (e.g., client counseling, portfolio strategy development, patentability search and analysis, patent application preparation, and patent prosecution) is performed under the authority of the USPTO, where the two titles are equivalent. All Launchpad practitioners (attorneys and agents) offer representation exclusively within this scope. Practice of law outside the USPTO (e.g., licensing patents, performing freedom-to-operate opinions, and patent litigation in the courts) as well as practice of trademark law before the USPTO is performed under the authority of a state bar association and can be performed only by a licensed attorney.

NOTE: Launchpad Patents doesn’t have the capabilities to assist in defending patent in the future against infringement but we can refer our clients to a number of excellent patent litigators.

Are communications between patent agents and clients privileged?

Launchpad asserts legal privilege over confidential communications with our clients within our scope of practice.  Our assertion was recently validated in a precedential decision by the US. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, In re: Queen’s University at Kingston, PARTEQ Research and Development Innovations.

What are the required parts of a U.S. nonprovisional utility patent application?

A complete nonprovisional utility patent application should contain the elements listed below, arranged in the order shown. See Nonprovisional (Utility) Patent Application Filing Guide.

  • Utility patent application transmittal form or transmittal letter
  • Appropriate fees
  • Application data sheet (see 37 CFR § 1.76)
  • Specification (with at least one claim)
  • Drawings (when necessary)
  • Executed oath or declaration
  • Nucleotide and amino acid sequence listing (when necessary)
  • Large tables or computer listings (when necessary)
How long does it take to acquire a patent?

On average, it takes about 2.5 years after filing a nonprovisional utility patent application in the United States. The chart below from Patently-O, a U.S. patent law blog, shows the median patent prosecution pendency over the past decade (2005–2015). The author defined pendency as the number of months from filing to issuance on a straight application-by-application basis. In this calculation, he did not consider priority, PCT, provisional, or RCE filings.

patentlyo-chart

What are the chances of my patent application resulting in at least one issued patent?

Historically, about 50 percent of filed U.S. patents are issued. More recently, USPTO allowance rates have increased to between 60 and 70 percent (http://patentlyo.com/patent/2012/12/patent-application-outcomes-rising-allowances-and-falling-abandonments.html). Launchpad practitioners have a significantly higher average than this USPTO normal range. We do not opine if your patent will attain commercial success. We make no representation about the patentability of specific inventions.

Can you review my current development work to assess if patent applications would be either feasible or advisable?

Yes.  We can help you understand if your invention is generally patentable subject matter.  We can help you understand the pros and cons of patent protection vs. alternatives such as holding your invention as a trade secret, filing a statutory invention disclosure, or disclosing your invention in a printed publication.  For specific prior art we know about, we routinely draft claims designed to overcome the known prior art.  However it is not possible, owing to the secrecy of recently filed patent applications, to know of absolutely all prior art. Thus no party other than a national patent office (during patent prosecution) can provide any absolute assurance of patentability.

How many patents has your business filed in the past two years?

From September 2013 to September 2015, we filed about 175 applications.

How do you ensure that conflict of interest is avoided if clients are competitors?

Like any other law firm or agency, we perform a conflicts check to make sure we have not recently represented an adverse or competitive interest.

How large is your business, and in what countries are you able to support patent applications?

We are a relatively small patent agency but we are rapidly growing.  We currently have six employee and contracted patent practitioners located in four states, plus a similar number of non-practitioner team members.  We have an extensive network of foreign associates and are able to file and prosecute patent applications in virtually any country.  Our highest volume foreign applications are currently in China, Europe, Japan, and Canada.

How do you structure payment for securing a patent?

We typically bill hourly and send monthly invoices to cover our professional fees and services.  Our aim is to keep our typical fees in the first or second quartile of patent agencies and law firms (per AIPLA statistics) while ensuring patent quality significantly better than average.

We provide debit notes when needed to cover foreign associate fees prior to payment.  For higher volume clients, we may occasionally set capped fees or fixed fees once we have developed an understanding of our costs as applied to client-specific technology.

I understand that patent trolling has recently become a major concern in many business circles. In what ways will Launchpad Patents provide my business with protection from this type of predatory practice?

Patent trolling is a phenomenon of the courts. Launchpad Patents does not practice in the courts. However, we can help you obtain early and complete patent filings that leave minimum scope available for patenting by a patent troll.  If you are targeted by a patent troll, we can help by referring you to competent counsel for representation in the courts.

Will Launchpad Patents sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA)?

Generally, no. We believe our clients and potential clients are adequately protected by the ethical obligations under which we operate. See USPTO Rules of Professional Conduct. Our policy helps ensure that we never enter an agreement that could create a conflict with these obligations.

Launchpad Patents practices exclusively within the scope granted by our federal (USPTO) registration. An attorney candidate must agree not to engage in the practice of law outside this scope in conjunction with his or her relationship with Launchpad. Attorneys not registered to practice patent law: sorry, but we cannot provide services outside our scope of practice and likely cannot provide employment.

×