Patents are legal protections of your unique designs or inventions. You should consider patenting your inventions or risk losing them to inventors who do.
If you are an inventor you need to familiarize yourself with the patent process. If you fail to patent your inventions you leave yourself open to having your intellectual property stolen or used by competitors. Protect yourself by patenting the designs you (or your employees) invent.
Provisional patents allow you to obtain a sort of “pre-patent.” This lets you continue to develop your idea while still protecting your intellectual property. You can safely involve others in the development and marketing of your idea without any fear that they will take your invention to your competitors. Getting those working with you to sign a non-disclosure agreement is always a good idea, regardless of whether or not you obtain a provisional patent.
Finish the Invention
You cannot patent an idea. To successfully obtain a patent you will need a set of full working plans at the least. A prototype is better.
Hire a Patent Attorney
A patent attorney can assist you with the complicated process of getting your invention patented. Some areas where a patent attorney can be of assistance include:
- Conducting your patent search to ensure that no one else has a patent pending.
- Representing you before the United States Patent Office.
- Provide assistance preparing and filing your patent paperwork.
- Offer opinions regarding whether your opinion is patentable.
- Patent attorney cannot offer any opinion regarding the validity of a third party’s patent if you are considering litigation without reexamination.
Classify Your Invention
There are three different types of inventions you can patent. The Patent Office requires that you specify what type of patent you seek. The three patent types are:
- Utility Patents: These are patents on new and useful processes and products or significant improvements on previously existing products.
- Design Patents: This type of patent is a new and original design that is largely ornamental in nature.
- Plant Patents: Plant patents are a new type of plant that can produce asexually.
Apply For Your Patent
Filing the correct application and pay the associated application fees. This will include written documents that are both descriptions of your product and claims regarding what it can do. You must also provide an oath or declaration. Often times, drawings and plans are necessary. The Patent Office has the right to demand a working model of the invention before they grant you a patent. Once you have filed the paperwork you have the right to use the term “patent pending” with regard to your invention.
The Patent Office is a notoriously slow branch of the federal bureaucracy. What this means for you is that a decision from the Patent Office can take years to get. In the event that your application is denied, you have the right to appeal. However, you should only do so if you believe that you have a strong legal footing and a fighting chance to win.
Patenting Your Invention
If you are an inventor or engineer, you need to become familiar with the patenting process at some point your career and the earlier the better. Further, if you run an engineering company it makes good business sense to have a patent attorney on retainer or staff, as you will likely be filing for many patents. Once you have navigated the system once you will have a far better idea of what it is expected. Each patent application, however, is different.