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Patent Lawyers


The history of law dates back thousands of years, although the area of patent law is a relatively recent development. As far back as the 1300s, people sought help from lawyers and their governments to protect their ideas and inventions from theft. In the early days of the United States, there was also concern about the protection of patents and other creative endeavors. The authors of the Constitution included a provision that authorized Congress to enact a statute "to promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries." Unfortunately, both lawyers and their clients were often frustrated in their attempts to gain support for patents and copyrights in court. By the 20th century, however, Congress and courts had begun to see innovative ideas and products as valuable to U.S. status in the global market. Today, scientists, engineers, researchers, research companies, and the citizen inventor rely on patent law to ensure that their discoveries and advancements are protected as their property. U.S. patents protect an invention from being made, used, or sold by any party other than the patent holder for 20 years. After this time, other parties may produce, use, or sell intellectual property contained in the original patent. Patent lawyers are the unique bridge between the scientific/technological and legal worlds, making sure their clients receive the acknowledgements for and profits from their work.

A major development in U.S. patent law was the passage of the America Invents Act in 2011. Legal experts believe that it is the most significant change to the U.S. patent system in 60 years. One of the main aspects of the law is the transition of U.S. patent law from a “first to invent” to a “first to file” system, which is the standard used by most other countries. Patents are awarded to the first company or individual that applies, rather than the first inventor. Critics of the law believe that it provides an advantage to large corporations, which have more legal and research resources than independent inventors.