Patent Law

Michael McNeil and his associates have personally authored more than 300 patents and have helped to secure over 700 U.S. Patents for clients large and small. Whether you are a Fortune 100 Company, such as Caterpillar Inc., a large private corporation, such as Cook Inc., a small business, or an individual inventor, we can be relied upon to deliver one or many patents with thoughtful personal service. Liell & McNeil Attorneys' first U.S. Patent can be viewed here, the first ever U.S Patent can be viewed here.

Utility Patents

Since the beginning of the republic, the United States has issued nearly nine million utility patents on an almost unimaginable array of different technologies. A utility patent grants the owner the right to stop anyone from making, using or selling the invention in the United States for twenty years from the patent application filing date. Like a deed legally defines a real estate property, an invention property is legally defined by patent claims listed at the end of the United States patent.

Design Patents

The novel aspects of the ornamental appearance (i.e., shape, texture, color, etc.) of an item of manufacture are protected for fourteen years with a U.S. Design Patent. To date, almost half a million design patents have been issued. The subject matter of this interesting design patent is now in the public domain, and therefore anyone can now freely make and sell the design. This design patent lucratively covers a replacement wear part for a large grappling machine that otherwise would be copied and sold by third party Chinese manufacturers.

Patent Searches

A patent search is a quick look through the U.S. and some foreign patent databases for prior patent publications that describe a same or similar invention. Copies of pertinent references discovered in the search are provided to the client, often with an opinion as to what scope of patent protection, if any, might be available for the invention in light of what was found in the search. One can conceivably have any publically available information from anywhere in the world held against one's patent application. A patent search is a quick economical tool for determining whether an expensive patent application should be pursued.


One of the most valuable economic resources are entrepreneurs who start a business to make and sell a new invention that improves the lives of others. These new businesses grow and employ fellow Americans while creating wealth for the risk takers to become the life blood of our economy. Here is a link to one of our oldest clients, ProMow Inc., that pioneered a better way to mow large lawns to the point that their patented mowers are now sold under their trademark in the Northern Tool Catalog.

Patent Services

By discovering what prior patents could be an obstacle to the patenting of your invention, we are able to write a patent application that is highly likely to successfully become a United States patent.

A provisional patent application gives you one year to decide how and whether to pursue an actual patent on an invention. Provisional patent applications allow you to market as "patent pending", but these applications are not examined and cannot ripen into a Unites States patent.

A regular patent application is examined and may issue as a United States patent if found to claim a novel and unobvious machine, process or composisiton of matter. The first to file, not the first to invent, is the person who is granted a patent. Delaying the filing of a patent application risks a total loss of patent rights.

A design patent application is directed to protecting the appearance, which is often primarily shape, of an item of manufacture. Design patents are an underused and often overlooked strategy for adding a different layer of protection to a commercial item that has a unique appearance apart from its other attributes.

This is a regular patent application that can be examined for patentability by either the United States or European Patent Office before becoming a regular patent application in almost any country in the world. There are a variety of strategy reasons for considering a PCT patent application, including thirty months to decide in which countries to nationalize the patent application.

We routinely file and prosecute nationalized PCT patent applications that originate in Europe or Asia for clients seeking patent protection in the United States. These patent applications are typically based on PCT patent applications filed abroad by associated foreign patent law firms.

A trademark or servicemark registration grants a nationwide exclusive right to use a symbol, a word or even a phrase in relation to marketing certain goods or services. Actual use of the mark in commerce across state lines is necessary for registration.

Although we do not litigate, we can help you find a superior litigator to protect your intellectual property rights.

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