Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Diving In

Last week I discussed the contents of a patent application.  But at the end of the day, that is just the paperwork.  The process doesn't start until the application gets filed.   Currently applicants have three filing options:  a utility application, a PCT application, or a provisional application

Utility Application:  

In the US, the utility patent is the name for patents granted to inventions.  A utility application is simply a utility patent application filed directly with the USPTO.  The current filing fee for a utility application is $1600 (without discount).

PCT Application: 

While there is no such thing as an “international patent”, the Patent Cooperation Treaty provides a way to file patent applications in multiple countries using a single application.  Under the PCT, a patent can be filed with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Switzerland.”  The WIPO records the application, assigns a priority date and performs a patentability search before forwarding the application to the national authorities of the countries where the patent is desired.  Once the patent enters this “National Stage”, the patent is processed through a country’s normal patenting process.

PCT applications are filed through a local “Receiving Office” which is usually the national patent authority of the applicant’s country of residence.  In the US, the USPTO acts as the “Receiving Office.”  Approximately 1/3 of textile related patent applications are filed through the PCT.  Current filing fees are about $4,000.  This is in addition to the fees that will be required by the national authorities.

Provisional Applications:

The provisional application is designed to quickly and inexpensively lock in a priority date for an invention.  To protect the priority date, an applicant has one year from the filing date of the provisional application to file a formal PCT or utility application. 

To apply for a provisional patent, an applicant needs to file a specification (without claims), drawings, a list of the inventors, basic bibliographic information and a cover sheet.  Now that the US has moved to a first inventor to file system, establishing a priority date by filing provisional applications has become more important. 

About 1/4 of textile related patent applications started with provisional applications.  The current filing fee for a provisional application is $260.

The choice of filing method will depend on the specific situation and it is best to consult with your patent agent or attorney when making this decision.  However, I can offer the following rules of thumb. 

You are usually better off filing utility or PCT applications rather than provisional applications when you can.   Provisional applications are great for locking in priority dates but they have limitations.  They should be followed up with a utility or PCT application as soon a practically possible. 

The PCT application process is probably preferable when an applicant:  1) is considering applying for patents in multiple countries; or, 2) needs time to evaluate the commercial viability or desirability of a patent.  

Below is a summary of selected patents that have been recently issued in textile related classification codes:

Flat textile structures with self-cleaning and water-repellent surface:Textile fabrics having a self cleaning and water repellent surface, constructed from an artificial, hydrophobic surface with elevations and depressions made from particles securely bonded to said base material without adhesives, resins or coatings.  Include is the method for making the fabric.  Patent #:  8629070 Inventor:  Oles and Nun.  Assignee:  Evonik Degussa Gmbh.

Disposable and reusable germ screen:  Hand covers to protect individual hands from germs while coming into physical contact with commonly used areas.  The method and devices can be either disposable or reusable.  Patent#:   8631513.  Inventor:  Sakin.  Not Assigned.

Protective element for sports pads and the like:  A protective insert of shaped thermoformable material that acts as a stiffening material inserted into protective padding.  The material returns to its original shape after an impact.    Patent #:  8631514.  Inventors:  Sioui, Assignee:  Sport Maska Inc.

Bikini top with friction locking cord adjustment system: Swim tops having a friction locking cord adjustment system with two terminal ends secured at the neck cord of the top.  Patent #:  8631515.  Inventor: Van Sisseren,  Assignee:  Nike, Inc.

Hood for protective garment:  A hood for a protective suit with improved seals for the respirator.  Patent #:  8631516.  Inventor:  Hoffman.  Assignee:  Blücher GMBH. 

Fabric fastener adjustably located between two prefabricated garment buttons:  Magnetic fastening assembly with a button face.  Intended to replace a button on a shirt or other garment. Patent #:  8631517.  Inventor:  Blakely.  Not Assigned.

Shock absorbing, stretchable fabric, head cap for receipt under a head protection helmet:  A light weight, shock absorbing, shock dissipating, moisture absorbing, stretchable fabric, head cap designed for use over the head of the user and under a hard shell helmet.  The fabric helps absorb and dissipate impact energy.  It also has a moisture wicking fabric liner.  Patent #: 8631518.  Inventor:  Jennings.  Not Assigned.

Bleaching composition:  The present invention relates to bleaching composition for keratin fibers, especially human hair, comprising at least one compound with bleaching and/or highlighting effect and a lipidic compound.  Patent:  8632609.  Inventor:  Grit.  Assignee:  Kao Germany GMBH.

Compositions for dyeing keratin fibers:  An acetal group chemical,with at least one colorant, that can be used for dyeing keratin type fibers including hair and wool. Patent #: 8632612.  Inventor:  Yontz.  Assignee:  Segetis, Inc.

Process for applying one or more treatment agents to a textile web.  An ultrasonic vibration system for textiles that uses ultrasonic vibrations to even disburse treatment agents through the material.  Patent #:  8632613.  Inventor:  Braunecker,  Assignee: Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc.

Jim Carson is a principal of RB Consulting, Inc. and a registered patent agent.  He has over 30 years of experience across multiple industries including the biotechnology, textile, computer, telecommunications, and energy sectors.  RB Consulting, Inc. specializes in providing management, prototyping, and regulatory services to small and start-up businesses.  He can be reached via email at or by phone at (803) 792-2183.

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