Invention Patent Application: Everything You Need to Know
Federal law requires examiners at the Patent Office to help individuals with the invention patent application who do not have a patent lawyer. 8 min read
Invention Patent Application: Everything You Need to Know
An invention patent application, when done with an attorney, can cost thousands of dollars. The United States Patent and Trademark Office allows individuals to apply on their own and do the application themselves. Federal law requires examiners at the Patent Office to help individuals with the invention patent application who do not have a patent lawyer.
Do take note that the undertaking of a patent process yourself will take up time and will require you to be persistent. Parts of a patent can become outsourced to others who have businesses around a task that is part of the patent process.
You have to realize you will have to spend much time studying the process to get the maximum benefit from applying for a patent. If you have the money for the fees, it does become possible to apply for the patent on your own. Here are some tips to go about applying:
- The Patent Office has specific rules for applying which include the application levels of the laws that created the patent system.
- Some items require a linear progression while others do not.
- Parts of the process may be started simultaneously.
- Check the United States Patent Office website for explanations
- The application itself are also available for view and study.
- Read up on the process, particularly from an individual perspective, to make the process easier
- Direct questions and inquiries to the Patent Office.
One way to ensure no one steals your ideas or invention is by keeping records. Though the cost of a patent might become prohibitive, archiving and documenting everything still gives a level of protection for your idea. Though not as good as a patent it gives protection and proof if someone steals. Sketches and diagrams offer a visual way to record your idea or invention. Those sketches do become part of the patent process. Sometimes it takes building a model before the full fruition of the process becomes apparent. This way, there are no doubts that you created it.
Make Sure Your Invention Qualifies for Patent Protection
Not all ideas, methods, systems, or processes lend itself to the patent process. Ideas often prove especially difficult to patent if it has a wide berth since many businesses may plug into such a thing. You have to prove it will work in some fashion.
Other laws such as copyright exist to cover other areas of creative property rights. To assure originality a long search on other similar work should happen before getting too far into an invention patent application. An individual can do the search or pay someone. Most searches cost over $500 in addition to attorney fees.
Patents remain costly. Most patents never recoup the cost of what it takes to get the patent in the first place. For small businesses that can be a huge issue, but it is also worth knowing that a patent can be sold.
Since it has monetary value, a small business that cannot afford to maintain the patent may sell the patent to another business. On average, however, filing for the patent itself is quite costly.
Research the market and make a business decision from there but do not forget to take a gander at the future prospects. Sometimes in just a year or two, your idea may play into a new emerging market. Emerging markets with start-ups offer lots of unique opportunities but have lots of risk. Getting on the ground floor of such a market gives a better chance of making good money. If your idea has to do with technology, early adopters will create the market. Whoever starts the process, system, or invention often gets to set the standards for that market niche in years to come.
When developing an idea, do not just consider larger businesses. Look at the trends developing around small businesses. Almost all larger businesses were small at one time and evolved. Look for niche markets with a possibility of evolving and match your idea or invention to their need. Start-ups experiment and often listen to new ideas and ways.
An invention patent application starts with an idea that at some point must have a process or system attached to it. Often during the research stage more of the need of how to design or further the invention becomes apparent. Filling out the application forces a person to write out the details. It is the details that determine originality. If those details do not arise in other patents or resources, the invention or idea is an original set of thoughts. Detailing it makes it possible for someone else to create the invention. You get paid for your idea becoming a process. Offering sketches makes the process more solid and visual.
A prototype does prove beyond a doubt whether or not a process or invention truly works. Sometimes it takes that level of proof before someone realizes something is not feasible. The opposite thought becomes what at one time was only a possibility a prototype proves what you thought truly does work.
Patent illustrators exist and it may be worth the money to bring your idea to a level most can visualize with you. The Patent Office accepts sketches by the individual as well. Engineering firms often have three-dimensional capability that further expands an idea. It helps possible investors decide if they wish to take the risk on for funding such an idea.
Sketches also often help in licensing an idea to other companies since it lets them visually check if a model will become compatible with their technology or process. Overlaps among ideas do exist and often leads to more creativity. Filling out the application ensures your idea comes up to a level others can use or view. Sharing an idea gets acceptance or investors. You want to do that with the protection of a “patent pending” so that anyone using the idea must compensate you.
Federal Circuit Cases have made it obvious that those applying for patents need to include alternative embodiments of the invention. One of the problems with a patented idea or invention means disclosing in detail the process. In doing so, other possible routes to the patent can come to light if you only do a single route patent. Your path may not work, but with a variation, another business can take an idea to fruition. Multiple embodiments in a patent makes sure it remains your idea. Just a few sentences can protect variations of the patent.
The description of the invention in several ways means substituting something else not possible. Say the invention has three working parts. If you do not mention the parts that are interchangeable someone else can come along and change out part number two, do a patent, and they get credit for the work done.
Be careful not to describe the invention too narrowly. Consider all the possibilities like and list it. Then list what you see as the preferred embodiment. Listing variations expands the patent and lets companies know your idea or invention can be modified as needed once you become paid. Otherwise, other companies can make as many variations as they want and profit from your good ideas.
If you worked with someone and tweaked their process well, you can become listed as a co-inventor on the patent, but you will not have rights to the patent. It gives a boost to any portfolio or resume. Applying for a provisional patent protects your right to explore further options on an idea or invention for a year. At some point, later you can do the draft portion of the application and include all the embodiments or variations you find.
Commercializing an invention often begins with a patent. The passage of the American Invents Act (AIA) in 2013 made significant changes. Prior to this time, an inventor could participate in activities with their idea without a patent, and a grace period is given for such a mistake up to a year. But now it can result in a patent not being issued. If you sell an invention without a patent, you have a year to obtain a patent. After that, any company without your permission can manufacture your invention.
Knowing who the first to file the idea was helps courts determine who owns the rights to an invention or idea. By selling or granting public use, you forfeit the right to a patent. In terms of foreign rights and doing global business, you would have to apply in those countries to retrieve that. Each country has a different set of rules to go by. Selling and public use of an invention may make money but may cause an issue when you go to patent. Mostly an issue for small business people who try many things and once it makes money decides to formalize the process. That lists as common sense but know it can create issues.
The real issue remains the cost of patenting. Most small businesses must do a trial run just to have a chance so presently the law does not favor that. Keep it local and keep it confidential remains the best bet till you acquire what becomes needed to get a patent.
Write the idea down and the details. Put it in a safe place. Tell a confidante about it in case a problem happens. All this shows in your favor in court. List the basic elements of the idea. Ponder with trusted colleagues the possible variations. Remember you can have co-inventors on a patent who will not have rights to the commercial part. Use the written materials to apply for the patent. It shows how the idea progressed long before it became formalized. If your business formed as a team, you can apply for a patent as a team. Most inventions will classify as a utility patent. Other types of patents list as design and plant.
- Utility patent: a process, composition of matter, a machine or portion of a machine including an improvement
- Design patent: if you created a design or a process to make designs
- Plant patent: if you manipulate seeds or the genetics of plants
Define the terms or any new words for your patent. Read carefully what can become patented. If your idea or invention involves art, music, or writing, then it falls under copyright laws, not patents. Take a look at future possibilities. See if your idea or invention will fit another prototype. It does not have to be past technology or even present formats. It can deal with the future or cutting-edge technologies.
Once a plant and utility patent becomes approved it protects about 20 years your invention from the day it became granted. Design patents protect for 14 years.
Conduct a Patent Search
Patent and Trademark Depository Libraries exist. Database house patents back to 1790. Take some time to learn how to query and which keywords would help find the most patents. Alexandria, Virginia houses the search facilities of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Searches can become performed by individuals but take some time to study. Patent attorneys can do the job, but it would incur higher costs compared to doing it yourself. Look for variations as well as your initial idea. If parts of the invention have a name look for patents of those parts as well. Make sure the idea truly is original.
If you need help with creating a patent you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel hires only the top 5 percent of lawyers into its site. Most have 14 years of legal service and have worked with small businesses to corporates. Their level of expertise ensures you the best and latest legal advice.