Protecting your ideas with Patents

What is a Patent?

A Patent is a right to exclude others  from manufacturing, selling, or using your invention for a certain number of years.

  

There is an abundance of “free” advice available claiming to provide the proper path to obtaining a patent for a first-time inventor, and it can be difficult to distinguish which suggestions are valid and which are more designed to separate the inventor from his or her money. The following information provides what we consider to be the least expensive option that maximizes the value for the inventor. 



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First time inventors: What you need to know

What kind of patents are there?

Basically, there are three types of patents, Provisional Patents, Utility Patents and Design Patents.


UTILITY PATENTS


 There are also advantages and disadvantages to going immediately with a utility patent

application. The main advantage (for some inventors) is that you get in line to have your patent

examined by the USPTO, and you don’t delay the examination by first filing a provisional,

waiting up to a year, and then filing the utility. Other inventors may prefer to drag out their

patent pending status as long as possible before examination, and so they would rather tack a

utility onto the end of a provisional. We have also found that inventors are usually taken more

seriously by venture capitalists, investors, prospective licensees, etc., with a pending utility

patent rather than a pending provisional patent.


Company policies – Are there company policies that are particularly important to your business? Perhaps your unlimited paternity/maternity leave policy has endeared you to employees across the company. This is a good place to talk about that.


Executive profiles – A company is only as strong as its executive leadership. This is a good place to show off who’s occupying the corner offices. Write a nice bio about each executive that includes what they do, how long they’ve been at it, and what got them to where they are.

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First Steps of the invention process

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Does Your Invention Work?

 If you aren’t sure it works, it doesn’t make sense trying to patent and manufacture something that doesn’t work, since no one will buy it, so your first step should  be to talk with an engineer with experience in your particular field to see if your invention will work as you think it will.  


First Step - Prior Art Search

A Prior Art Search is an important step in helping the inventor decide whether to proceed

with a utility patent application. With a Prior Art Search, you are trying to find patents,

published patent applications, other publications, products being sold, and any other item that

may be used to prove that either a) the inventor was not the first inventor of this particular

invention, or b) that the combination of the prior art renders this particular invention a mere

“obvious improvement”, and not worthy of a patent.


First and foremost, prior art searches are not perfect. Even if you hire 10 different prior art

searching companies, they will probably not find everything that an examiner could use in

trying to shoot down your application, but the prior art search will hopefully at least give you

some idea of what else has already been invented, and from that you determine how to

proceed. To repeat, just because you have done your own prior art search and found “nothing”

and a professional prior art searching company did not find a patent that was, in your opinion,

“not very close” to your invention, it is no guarantee that you will get a patent.


If there is prior art that is close to your invention, you should consider either a

Patentability Assessment by a patent law firm, which will detail “how dangerous” the prior art appears to be to your invention, and/or going back to the engineers to see if they can advise you on how to design around the prior art that was found.


Once you have reviewed the results from the prior art search, you have a very important

decision to make. You can review the results yourself and decide how to proceed, or have a

patent attorney review the results and advise you and the likelihood of success (usually around

$1,500 to review a prior art search, but can vary depending upon the number of references

found). Please realize before you spend money having the prior art results analyzed that a) the

analysis will be based only on the prior art found, and b) that patent laws and the USPTO’s

interpretation of them can change dramatically from the time of the analysis to the time your

application is examined, which can render the analysis relatively useless in light of changes to

law or USPTO examination procedures.

Provisional Patents

Proper use of a Provisional Patent application can buy the inventor a year of grace period.  This allows the inventor time to disclose his invention to potential investors, promote the item at trade shows, Ebay, etc.   A well written Provisional supports a Utility Patent application.   This year will be a test period for the invention to make any necessary changes to it prior to filing for the Utility Patent. Utility Patent application is filed within 1 year of provisional filing date. 

(See Video below for more on Provisional Patents)


Pricing - $3000 and up

Length of protection - 1 year grace period

Design Patents

For Information on Design Patents, please see video below.


Pricing - $2000 and up

Length of protection - 14 Years from issue date

Utility Patents

For Information on Utility Patents, please see video below.


Pricing -  $7000 and up 

Length of protection - 20 years from filing date

Utility Patent

 ICIP Presents - How to Get a Utility Patent

Provisional Patent

ICIP Presents - How to Get a Provisional Patent - Part I

Provisional Patents - Part II

ICIP Presents - How to Get a Provisional Patent - Part II

Design Patents

ICIP Presents - Learn About Design Patents