There is nothing more exciting than creating your very own invention. However, if you want to pursue inventing as more than a hobby, it is imperative that you learn about all of the important legal details regarding inventions. Although patents can be quite complicated, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind that will help you navigate the patenting process. Here is a list of our top 10 patent tips for inventors and creators.
Any successful inventor will tell you that the key to pursuing your patent dreams is loving what you do and being enthusiastic about your goals. Creating a new invention is not a simple task, and the process becomes even more complex when it becomes time to apply for a patent. Having a passion for your invention is crucial, especially considering the amount of time you will spend on it.
Before going any further with your invention, start creating an organized record of the invention. The record should include a clear description of the idea, the date, your signature, and the signatures of two witnesses. In the event that your patent application is rejected or you have discovered that someone has infringed only our patent rights, a record of the invention can often serve as proof that you are the rightful owner of your invention.
Suppose you have come up with an idea for an incredible, groundbreaking invention. It’s time to act fast since ideas are not patentable! In fact, in the United States, there is no effective way to protect an idea with any form of intellectual property protection. Instead, patents are used to safeguard tangible forms of an idea or creation. It is for this reason that it is highly recommended to put your idea in a physical form as soon as possible. This will get you a step closer to registering your patent and receiving federal protection. Moreover, a tangible model will make it easier to pitch your invention to developers and investors.
Before your invention becomes officially patented, it is imperative to put legal measures in place to prevent someone else from stealing the idea for your invention. If you intend on exposing confidential information about your invention to a third party, a Non-Disclosure Agreement is key. These contracts, also known as NDAs or confidentiality agreements, are legally binding agreements that certain information will remain confidential. NDAs prohibit signing parties from disclosing information about the invention or using information about the invention to start a competing company.
Patent clearance searches, also known as freedom to operate searches or FTO searches, are used to determine whether an invention will infringe upon the rights of an already existing patent. Since the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will only grant one patent per invention, patent searches are an essential step in the patent application process. Searches minimize the chances that you will be sued for patent infringement. Further, they provide significant details regarding the patentability of your invention.
While you are busy perfecting the final touches of your state-of-the-art invention, filing a patent application might be the last item on your “to do” list. Nonetheless, try not to wait too long to file your patent application. Firstly, you have just one year from the date you made your invention public to file for a patent. Secondly, the U.S. patent system operates on a first to file basis, which means that patent rights will go to whoever first filed their application with the USPTO. Win the race for patent protection by filing your application as soon as you possibly can.
Applying for a patent is a legal process that involves a number of strict deadlines. Aside from the one year deadline for patent application listed above, you also have a limited amount of time to respond to patent Office Actions, pay maintenance fees and more. Unjustifiable delays in the process can lead to abandonment of your patent for failure to reply within a specified time period.
Planning on patenting your invention in more than one country? You may want to consider using the Patent Prosecution Highway, or PPH. Patent offices participating in the PPH have come to a collective agreement stating that when an applicant has been approved for at least one of their claims from a patent office, the applicant is eligible for a fast-track examination of corresponding claims in patent application pending in another patent office. As of 2022, more than 30 offices in 22 countries have joined the PPH. Its main participants include the USPTO, the European Patent Office (EPO), the Chinese Patent Office (SIPO) and the Japan Patent Office (JPO).
Receiving patent protection does not happen overnight. The average amount of time it takes to obtain a design patent is between one to two years. When it comes to utility patents, it may take up to 5 years to receive official approval from the actual filing date. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that you will be granted patent approval within a certain amount of time. This is a situation that requires plenty of patience.
Keep your focus on perfecting your new invention and leave the legal work to a skilled patent attorney. After all, patent law is a highly technical legal field and drafting a patent application on your own can be incredibly difficult, even for the most simple of inventions. Contact one of our top intellectual property attorneys today and get on the fast track to federal protection for your invention.