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Attorney General Herring's Patent Troll Unit

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General Information

The United States Constitution gives Congress the power “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.” The federal patent laws enacted by Congress protect any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof. The patent laws foster innovation by offering the inventor the right to exclude others from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing an invention for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of the invention.

To obtain patent protection, an inventor must file a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), the agency responsible for the examination of patent applications and the issuance of patents on behalf of the United States government. During the patent application process, the USPTO determines whether the patent application and the invention satisfy the statutorily prescribed patentability requirements. If allowable, the USPTO will send a Notice of Allowance and, after the applicant pays the issue fee and publication fee, grant a patent.

The issued patent gives the owner the right to prevent others from using the invention for a limited time. The patent claims define the scope of the invention. When another person practices (i.e., makes, uses, sells, offers to sell, or imports) a patented invention without the patent owner’s permission, the patent owner may file a civil action for patent infringement, which may result in the award of an injunction, damages, or other remedies.

For more information about the patent system, please click here to view a brief video on patents created by the Federal Judicial Center.

Patent Statutes and Rules

You may click on the links below to view the federal patent laws and regulations, and the Virginia law prohibiting bad faith assertions of patent infringement.