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What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property is a term that describes the ownership of intangibles - the ownership of ideas or the specific expression of an idea, of names, designs or concepts. Intellectual property is the broad term describing patents, trademarks, service marks, and copyrights. Intellectual property law is very sophisticated and for this reason, some attorneys exclusively practice this section of the law.

How do I choose an intellectual property law firm?
When choosing a lawyer for any matter, one of your primary considerations should be how comfortable you feel when working with them. You will be in contact with them a great deal. Are they accessible? Do they respond to your calls promptly and with the desired information? Do they explain what you need to know in a helpful way?

When it comes to intellectual property, however, there are other considerations. Intellectual property law is not for every lawyer. Typically, intellectual property practitioners are educated in science, engineering and/or math disciplines as well as in the law. They must take a licensing exam in addition to the bar exam to determine if they are knowledgeable enough to practice intellectual property law. Thus, they are held to an even higher standard than a general practice attorney.

A firm that can offer qualified practitioners and a competent staff is a good start. A firm that employs former patent examiners adds a unique advantage, because they have intimate knowledge of the process by which the U.S. government determines which inventions and designs merit patent protection. Both Blynn Shideler and Krisanne Shideler worked as patent examiners for the U.S. PTO.

How long is a patent valid?
Due to changes in the patent and trademark law that became effective because of the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) Treaty, the term of a patent depends on when that patent application was filed. A patent granted from a patent application filed after June 8, 1995, will be in force from the date the patent is granted through 20 years after the effective filing date of the patent application. An unexpired issued patent or a patent application that was pending on June 8, 1995, enjoys protection for the longer of terms: either 17 years from the date of issuance or 20 years from the effective date of the filing. [Prior to GATT, a patent would be in force for 17 years from the issue date of the patent.] Prior to GATT, a patent filed on December 1, 1993 and issued as a patent on December 1, 1995 would have been enforceable until December 1, 2012 (assuming all maintenance fees are paid), but enjoys the longer term of twenty years from the filing date, expiring instead on December 1, 2013. A patent filed on December 1, 1995 and issued as a patent on December 1, 1997 would be enforceable until December 1, 2015, again, assuming all maintenance fees are paid.

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