Patent protection is often the cornerstone of the intellectual property rights sought by successful enterprises, offering protection for the embodiment of a new idea. Thus, new product developers, manufacturers, distributors, and the like typically seek patent protection for new machines, devices, manufacturing processes, chemical compositions, etc. to secure legal exclusivity to their innovations. Recent Supreme Court and appellate decisions have greatly modified the nature and scope of patent protection, and our patent attorneys stay abreast of all relevant court decisions to provide clients with thorough and actionable advice regarding this critical aspect of so many businesses. These changes to the law have made it critical for all innovative businesses to address the issue of patents, both from an offensive perspective (namely, to protect the competitive advantage offered by the introduction of novel products and services), and from a defensive perspective (to ensure that investment in new products and services does not result in infringing the patent rights of others).
A successful patent strategy starts with assessing a client's specific technologies and marketing objectives, such that a customized, strategic patenting program may be implemented to build the most appropriate patent portfolio for each client's specific needs. However, in addition to understanding our client's business goals, understanding the inventor's vision is also key to the implementation of a successful patent strategy. Our patent professionals pride themselves on working closely with inventors and fully involving them in the application process in order to fully define and protect their inventions. Such cooperation between attorney and inventor will often yield an application that not only maximizes the chances of obtaining an issued patent, but that will provide the patent holder with a valuable commercial asset.
Our patent practice, which includes the largest number of registered patent attorneys of any firm in the Baltimore area, comprises the preparation and prosecution of both domestic and foreign applications in numerous technological fields, such as mechanical, electrical, and electro-mechanical devices, manufacturing equipment and processes, biomedical devices and processes, fluid handling systems and apparatus, optics, communications, materials sciences, computer and Internet-related inventions, recreational devices, and sporting goods. Our clients range from small, entrepreneurial start-ups to multinational corporations. Well-established relations with foreign associate patent counsel enable us to easily file patent applications throughout the industrialized and commercially significant nations of the world with confidence.
Some of the specific services that our patent prosecution practice provides include:
- Prior art searches to determine the patentability of a proposed invention and the scope of protection an inventor may expect should they proceed with the application process.
- Preparation of new patent applications in a wide variety of technologies. The preparation stage includes intensive interaction between the attorney preparing the application and the inventor in order to ensure technical accuracy of the specification.
- Filing of applications in the United States and throughout the world. After the application is drafted and the inventors agree that the application is in proper form, we will file it in the United States Patent and Trademark Office to initiate the examination process. Corresponding foreign applications may also be filed through our foreign associate counsel.
- Prosecuting the application before the PTO. After the application has been filed, a Patent Examiner will review the application and perform his or her own prior art search, often citing related prior art and requiring the applicant to distinguish his or her invention from the prior art. The Examiner's arguments are analyzed by both the attorneys responsible for the case and the inventor, and responses are prepared to convince the Examiner of the patentability of the invention.
- Prosecuting the application beyond the Patent Examiner. In the event that the Examiner is not convinced of the merits of the invention after the applicant has filed a response, the Examiner may issue a "final" office action, at which time an appeal may be taken to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences and, if necessary, to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
- Performing infringement/validity studies. From an offensive perspective, in the event that a client's competitor launches a new product or service that is similar to that of our client, we may undertake an infringement analysis to determine whether our client's patent is being infringed. Likewise, from a defensive perspective, in the event that a client is faced with a competitor's assertion of patent infringement, we may undertake an infringement and validity analysis which allows us to advise our clients on the likelihood of an asserted patent being held as valid in an infringement lawsuit, as well as on the infringement liability risk posed by the asserted patent.
- Prosecuting a client's patent rights or defending its right to manufacture its products or undertake a particular method in the face of an allegation of patent infringement in federal court or an appropriate administrative agency.