Filing a Patent

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Do you have an invention you think might be a game-changer in the market? Well, before introducing it to the world, the first step is to make sure no one can steal your creation. Obtaining intellectual property rights is a crucial step to getting the documents needed to verify you are the sole owner. But the process of filing a patent is not all smooth sailing. If you do not want your application rejected by USPTO after investing most of your resources, have the following in mind. Think of a Provisional Patent Application At what stage is your invention? If you are sure your product needs further development or would like to evaluate it commercially before committing to a full patent, obtaining a PPA is the best course of action. According to the 2013 USPTO rules, the system no longer recognizes the first to invent as the owner but the first inventor-to-file. So, if your technology is still in the development phase and would not want anyone claiming ownership of the idea before you, get a 12-month provisional patent. This way, even if your invention goes public during the 12-month period, it would be an infringement on your rights, sue able in a court of law. Filing a provisional patent application is less difficult than a non-provisional one. Typically, the process involves:
  • Creating two pdf files
  • Describing your invention on the first file and drawings on the second
  • Downloading the cover sheet
  • Paying the USPTO charges and submitting your file.
Conduct Thorough Search Coming up with a unique invention today is by no means an easy feat. There might be numerous similar applications already existing in your field and copying them is a direct infringement of the owners’ rights. The only way to know if an invention is patentable or not is through an online art search. Patent databases such as Google Patents or USPTO website provide you with a list of similar inventions in your field. All you must do is enter specific keywords on the database describing your invention. Then, it brings you inventions closest to yours, including your competitors’ patents to avoid infringing their rights. This way, if you find any similarities between your invention and others, you can make small adjustments or change the whole idea. Remember provisional patent applications will not show up in your search until they have completed the 18-month waiting period. Plus, you can do the patent search yourself or hire a professional. Consider Professional Help While it is possible to file a full patent yourself, the process can be cumbersome and time-consuming when solo. In the end, your application may end up rejected because of simple flaws that a professional could have detected. However, a registered patent attorney does more than spot mistakes in your patent application process. In fact, they go all out to ensure you have peace of mind during the entire process by handling most of the heavy lifting. A professional patent attorney brings to the table: Expertise Every patent application case is different, so what worked in another situation may not apply to you. An attorney has experience handling different patent issues and knows the entire application like the palm of their hand. Plus, because of attorney-client privilege, you are sure sensitive patent information will not reach outside parties. Legal Advice The process of filing a patent is a tricky legal minefield to maneuver alone. An attorney who understands your invention and business can advise you on the type of patent to take, timing requirements, whether to sign non-disclosure agreements or file a provisional patent or not. Preparation and Execution Numerous patent applications are rebuffed by USPTO because the inventions are similar or an error in the application process. Once USPTO rejects your patent, it will be more expensive to file another further, thus, you want the first draft to be a successful one. A lawyer will do hundreds of hours of research on your behalf, write the perfect description, and create drawings. In addition, they will organize and proofread the documents before submitting them to spot mistakes that may limit your chances of patent application approval. Carefully Select and File the Application Once you confirm there is no similar invention or application to yours out there, the next step is carefully choosing and filing a non-provisional patent. This is by no means an easy task, and usually, it has strict deadlines and non-extendable timescales. Therefore, take your time determining which type of patent suits your application and, if possible, get a patent attorney to help find the best among these three: Utility Patent This is the most filled type of patent at the USPTO. It is given to those who discover or invent any useful or new processes involving machines (moving parts), processes (software development), articles of manufacture (e.g., candleholders and brooms), or any other useful new improvements. Applying for a utility patent is only possible through the U.S mail, by hand at their offices in Virginia, or the EFS-Web – USPTO’s electronic filing system. Design Patent A design patent is legal protection for ornamental designs of functional or practical items. Design patents could be for simple ornaments such as jewelry and furniture or complex industrial designs for beverage containers and computer icons. The application process has its specific guidelines different from the other patents. It includes:
  • Filing a provisional patent (optional)
  • Performing a patent search
  • Preparing black-ink drawings of your designs
  • Creating a written version of your patent application
  • Submitting the design application together with applicable fees
  • Revising your application if rejected the first round according to the examiner’s instructions and resubmitting
Plant Patent This type of patent is only granted to inventors who successfully discover or invent a distinct new variety of plants. For a plant species to qualify as patentable, it must be non-tuber propagated or sexually produced. The only way to achieve this is through grafting or cutting the plant. Estimate the Costs Filing a patent is not a straightforward process, and because of this, it comes at a price. There are different fees charged during the patent application process, depending on the type of patent you are applying for. First is the basic fee for all applications, followed by a search fee, issue fees, and application fee. Furthermore, if you hire a professional attorney, have the service fees for drafting and filing ready plus the official fees. Plan your Intellectual Property Strategy The path you choose to take while applying for a patent determines whether you succeed or fail. Most times having a well-laid out plan helps make the process of filing a patent as flawless as possible. From the onset, decide whether you want professional assistance or not, and consider other IP options such as trademarks and designs. Of course, your strategy will depend on your goals and budget. Without them, it is impossible to prepare a winning patent application. Comply with USPTO Demands USPTO has strict policies regarding filing a patent, and they may ask for additional information about your invention. It is best to comply with their requests because this is how they can determine the smallest similarities between your invention and others. If still in doubt, they may ask you to explain how yours is different from others. Once satisfied, they will approve or deny your request for a patent based on various grounds. Key Takeaways Filing a patent is not as easy as it sounds, or many people think. The application process has numerous challenges, especially if you decide to do it alone. Having a patent attorney by your side helps streamline the entire process since they have the knowledge and expertise to get the job done.