1. The Patenting Process
2. What to Keep in Mind While Applying for a Patent
3. Patent Enforcement
4. How to Apply for a Patent

Patent after publication should happen as soon after the publication of a work as possible. The best time to patent a work is before it is published.

The Patenting Process

In order to have a work, idea, or invention patented it must follow these rules:

  • It must be completely new and never-before disclosed.
  • It must be possible to manufacture or apply to an industry.
  • It must be totally original to the person or company applying for the patent.

Software for computers and other similar ideas and inventions are also able to be patented, even though they don't seem as tangible as the most popular inventions of the 20th century. Many times, the software isn't a completely new program, but an improved way of handling data.

When applying for a patent in the computer world, it is a good idea to consult a patent attorney. Rules and regulations change and vary depending on the country. A patent lawyer will help determine whether an idea is worthy of a patent or if it is even possible to get one. They can also help you navigate the patent process.

What to Keep in Mind While Applying for a Patent

If you decide to apply for a patent, there are several important aspects of the process to keep in mind and be well-prepared for. First and foremost, you'll need to decide if a patent is absolutely necessary for your idea or project. Sometimes all a work needs is a simpler form of intellectual property (IP) protection.

Other forms of IP protection include:

Consider the costs of patenting. Will protecting your work with a patent pay you back? The annual fees vary depending on the country, but patent protection is not free. Understanding the commercial potential for your idea and how marketable it is will give you a good idea whether it's something worth protecting.

Think about timing. What stage is your idea in? In the early stages of an invention, it can be tough to get a patent, plus it's difficult to have a good idea of its earning potential. Waiting too long to patent a work can also be a bad idea, because the process takes time. You'll want to be sure to have a work patented before it is published or disseminated. The real threats to IP come once a work is out in the public sphere.

The timing for applying for a patent is also important when it comes to the projected life span of your project. The process to obtain a patent can take as long as four years. If you are hoping to protect an idea or product in an industry that is constantly changing and improving, your idea might not be worth being patented by the time it officially is protected.

Patent Enforcement

Even though you register a patent with the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office), they are not responsible for upholding the protection. You'll need to either monitor the industry for patent infringement or pay someone to do it for you. It can be expensive to actually protect your ideas, from the actual patent coverage to the enforcement of that patent. It can be a waste of time and money to obtain a patent but have no way of enforcing it.

Be sure that your patent protection will hold up in court. The best way to ensure that your IP protection is enforceable is to consult an experienced attorney. Competitors will challenge patents when they hope to benefit from the success of another. If you aren't prepared for such challenges, the patent could be rendered useless.

How to Apply for a Patent

There are specific timelines and deadlines when it comes to applying for a patent. A patent is a legal document that is issued by the federal government, so it is taken very seriously.

Once you are sure that it is the right time to apply for a patent, after consulting a patent attorney and considering all of your options, you'll need to contact the appropriate office to apply. The USPTO covers IP in the United States. Another countries can and do offer patent protection, but the process differs in each place. Decide exactly where you feel it is necessary to protect your ideas.

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