If you’re an entrepreneur, you might be wondering if you should apply for a patent to protect your IP. If so, consider finding a good patent attorney first.
Let me first premise this statement by saying that I think we live in an amazing country and I am a proud voter. That being said, I don’t think it’s a huge secret that there are some major areas that our government can work on (like education, the budget, immigration, health care…. but I digress). In my mind, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is like a gigantic version of the DMV: overcrowded, virtual long lines, endless mazes of cubicles, and grumpy workers that yell in a not-so-enthusiastic monotone, “Next!” After all, typically when you submit a patent application it requires the approval of one or two examiners . To make matters worse, those applications can take anywhere from 22 to 29 months to be issued depending on how much you are willing to pay in additional fees or if you have decided to hire lawyers to represent you to speed up the process.
In addition, Alyssa Bereznak, correspondent for Yahoo! Tech, just reported that for the past 20 years there has been a program in place called Sensitive Application Warning System (SAWS) that would put about .04 percent of the applications a month aside and take twice the average time to be approved while also being twice as likely to be rejected. This was enacted to allow “patent examiners to alert leadership when a patent might issue on a sensitive matter… By bringing an additional quality assurance check to a very small number of pending patent applications, the USPTO helps ensure that those applications that could potentially be of special interest, are properly issued or properly denied. ”
While the SAWS program was retired this month, the repercussions are still being felt by those who were impacted by the program. (While the.04 percentage may seem insignificant, that would equal about 500 applications a month.) One such case that is pending involves Gilbert Hyatt, “an established inventor who has been embroiled in a lawsuit against the patent office since 2014,” explains Bereznak. “He’s accused the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office of stalling on two computer-related patent applications from nearly 40 years ago — technology that he says is now entirely obsolete.”
Because patents are vital to protecting a company’s intellectual property and therefore it’s unique products, this process should not be taken lightly. Also, with such a lengthy procedure that carries a fair amount of fees, the filing needs to be done right the first time. We recommend hiring a patent attorney to ensure that you protect your ideas in a timely matter and with a profession’s expertise.