Intellectual Property Law

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Chemical Patent Law

A chemical patent is a patent for an invention in the chemical or pharmaceuticals industry. See below for questions that have been answered by the Experts.

If a patent on a chemical formula expires, can it be renewed?

Patents are valid ranging from a 14 to 20-year span; although, it may be dependent on the original grant that was obtained from the patent office. However, when it expires; it cannot be renewed and the item becomes part of the public eye meaning that any member of the public may legally take that item and sell it to the market without having any consent from the original owner.

What legal obligations is a person bound by when quoting or paraphrasing?

When directly quoting or using content from sources, copyright law recommends always obtaining permission to avoid possible infringement or even lawsuit against a person or company. Please note that citing the source of the content does not substitute for obtaining permission. Paraphrasing or summarizing strategies, thoughts or concepts learned from others does not require permission. Copyright only protects the expression of information or idea, not the idea that is thought of.

Can a person patent a new "use" of an existing product dispenser for an entirely different use to dispense a product?

Generally, under normal circumstances, a patent can be obtained. The patent laws allow an individual or corporation to patent a completely different use for an existing item, so long as the new use is itself an innovation. So, for example, if a company has a chemical that could be sold to treat wrinkles in the face, and another person realized that it would also preserve vegetables, that person can patent the new use of the original existing chemical, no problem.

If a person is selling a chemical formula to a company, do they have to inform how they came up with the formula and how to guarantee no one else can buy the formula?

First, if this invention is original work, it is best to obtain a patent on the formula, which would protect other people from stealing or copying the formula from the original inventor. Second, the buyers don’t need to know how the inventor came up with the formula and the inventor doesn’t need to share that information at all. Third, the inventor should sell this invention with exclusive rights by executing a written contract with the buyer whereby contract saying that the invention will not be sold to another buyer.

Can a person legally remove a portion of the contents and then add new contents to an un-patented chemical that has already been approved by the government?

Most cases this would be TM infringement for maybe passing off a person’s invention as someone else's. Far as copyright issues go everything should be fine since the bottle is subject to copyright exhaustion. Although, there may be a risk of being charged with fraud depending on the process that is taking place. 

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