Hard Truths About Getting Patents: Quick Tips For Inventors

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Common Mistakes for Inventors to Avoid

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2. How to Prepare

Your invention may seem like a great idea to you , and maybe it is! Market research is an ongoing process that you will be engaged in throughout your product development process. If you think you have a reasonable prospect of making money, then you need to know whether anybody else already has a claim to this idea. Nothing will put the brakes on a product development project like finding out that someone else already holds the patent.

So, one of the first things you should do is your own preliminary search of the market. This should be followed up with a professional patent search. The purpose of a preliminary patent search is to save yourself the trouble of performing a professional search in the event that you can rule out the patentability of your invention yourself for free.

Your goal is to look everywhere you can to find any evidence that an invention like yours has already been put on the market or disclosed publically. You could also try Google Patents.

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With over 9,, patents on file at the USPTO and counting , plus a mountain of documents pertaining to inventions that were never patented, it is virtually impossible for any new invention not to have some kind of relevant prior art in the USPTO databases. This is not a decision that should be taken likely.

Messing up a provisional application can have disastrous consequences down the road. A provisional patent application is a tool that allows inventors to establish an earlier priority filing date for their invention. Provisional applications are quite simple to file and are relatively inexpensive. There are few formatting requirements, and as a matter of fact no one at the Patent Office is even going to read it. That said, a poorly filed provisional application can really come back to bite you. This means that if your invention changes significantly between your provisional application and the final product, your application will be rendered ineligible for patent protection.

That means a lot of money down the drain, and it means you lose your priority filing date. If, during that year-long period between your provisional application and the utility patent, you sold or made any public disclosures pertaining to your invention believing you were protected by the pending patent which has now been rendered invalid, then you may have now forfeited your patent rights entirely.

Provisional patent applications can be very useful, but only if they are done properly! Because they are relatively easy to file, certain firms will offer to file provisional applications for you for very modest prices. Always be wary of these services! To make matters worse, some of these companies offering cheap patenting services are complete scams. Which leads us to another unfortunately common mistake for hopeful inventors. Always remember: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

You are going to a professional to seek professional assistance. Patent attorneys and patent agents do not sell products, they sell services, which means all they have to sell is time. Time is money, quite literally. Many inventors spend copious amounts of time looking for representation on a contingency basis, but the reality of patent practice is that patent practitioners do not represent inventors on a contingency basis. There are many things that can and will present challenges between the completion of the invention, obtaining a patent and ultimately making money on the invention.

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When attorneys take cases on a contingency they do so because there is a virtual guarantee that there will be at least some money recovered or obtained, which is why contingency representation is so popular with personal injury attorneys. In the innovation world very few inventions actually make more money than invested in the invention. You really need to be prepared to pay for the services you will want or need. There is nothing wrong with shopping around to find the right patent attorney or patent agent.

Having said that, you need to be careful how you do it or you run the risk of alienating competent, experienced patent attorneys. Everyone has a budget, even the largest companies in Silicon Valley are willing to spend only so much to obtain patents. So it is hardly a shock to learn that independent inventors need to keep costs reasonable and within a budget. Patent attorneys and patent agents should be able to tell you roughly how much it will cost through filing a patent application with relatively close precision after learning a little about your invention. For some ballpark information you can see The Cost of Obtaining a Patent.

So it is reasonable to ask early on in the process about costs — in my opinion — because if the cost is too much for a particular budget all that is happening is everyone is wasting their time. What has put me off in the past, however, is when I will get an e-mail, letter, or message via LinkedIn from a prospective client who asks me to bid on a project.

Competent, qualified patent attorneys are going to determine how much work legitimately needs to be done and they will give you a fair and reasonable quote. If there are legitimate ways to pursue a more austere path those can be discussed, but you must realize you are never going to pay for a Kia and receive a Lamborghini. The only way to keep costs low in the patent world is to do less work, which can be a recipe for disaster.

A race to the bottom for the lowest cost provider guarantees inferior quality, which is something that inventors MUST be mindful of when they simply choose the lowest cost provider. The other thing about shopping around that should be understood relates to the request for a bulk discount. It would seem that many inventors have been told, or have independently surmised, that if they tell a patent attorney or patent agent that they have 10 or 20 patent applications ready to go in the near future that will get them a discount on the first patent application.

Like all industries, bulk work does receive bulk discount pricing, but bulk pricing actually requires bulk work. You simply cannot give a bulk discount for a single piece of work, and inventors who ask for a bulk discount on a single piece of work come across as insincere and send the wrong message every time.

They simply do not get taken seriously. Previously I talked of preparation with respect to being organized with respect to the information you have relating to your invention. Now it is important to understand the importance of being informed with respect to patent law and process. The more you understand the better you will be able to participate with important decisions, and the better understanding you will have about the information that is required, which in turn will make it easier for you to provide the best, most relevant information that will ultimately lead to the best product i.

We have hundreds of free tutorial articles here on IPWatchdog. You also need to be realistic. Being realistic can come in many forms, from realistically estimating the market size — a critical mistake many inventors make that will immediately turn off knowledgeable industry professionals — to realistically appreciating the differences between the prior art and what the invention contributes.

Serious professionals simply steer clear of inventors who have unrealistic expectations because those with unrealistic expectations have expectations that can never be met. The point here is you need to be mindful that patent practitioners are frequently on guard when dealing with independent inventors and any sign that you will be difficult to work with, for whatever reason, will cause serious professionals to question whether they should get involved even if you are willing to pay their requested rated.

Gene founded IPWatchdog. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations.

Tags: famous inventors , independent inventor , independent inventors , inventor , patent , Patent Agents , Patent Attorneys , patents. Read more. Stick to the point. If the attorney is curious probably not , they can listen to you on their own time. What happens if you have a patent attorney that does an outstanding professional job but is constantly encountered by a stubborn examiner who is always missing the main claim in a patent pending application?