You have your invention. The next step is to get the patent.
As exciting as this process is, getting an invention patent can be costly, difficult, and tricky, for both individuals and startups.
It can be very easy to make mistakes, which can set you back on your patent goals.
We’ve put together a list of the biggest pitfalls to sidestep as you navigate the patent process. Keep these in mind as you move forward, and you’ll be sure to see your invention through to its end smoothly and successfully.
7 Big Invention Patent Pitfalls to Avoid
1. Thinking that patience is a virtue.
After designing your invention, you may find it difficult to take action and pursue a patent right away.
However, waiting too long to fill out a patent application is the biggest invention patent pitfall out there. Getting a patent is a competitive thing, and procrastination on the part of inventors is a leading factor in preventing patent approval. While doing everything right is key you need to be ready to get moving once you have something you can monetize.
Putting off submitting an application can give someone else the opportunity to jump in and push their similar (or identical) idea through, which will put you and your invention at legal odds in the future. Remember we live in a first to file world, courts are no longer interested in who invented what first.
2. Forgetting to do a patent search before filing an application.
Have the next billion dollar idea? The SnapChat of Uber’s of AirBnBs? Or the next grill that’s going to blow Forman out of the water? (The Tyson Toaster does have a nice ring to it?) Just please, please before you get to crazy do a Google search or even DuckDuckGo if you insist. If you don’t see anything like it anywhere on search engines, social media, or in the press then start to get serious.
Even though it is one of the most fundamental aspects of pursuing a patent, a lot of applicants forget to do a patent search in the beginning.
A patent search entails searching for all published patents to see if any of them have similarities to yours. A patent search can help you determine if your invention is novel or not.
This is absolutely critical from a legal standpoint when submitting an application. But more importantly it keeps you on-base and engaged in what you need to be doing.
3. Turning in a sub-par application.
This seems rather intuitive, but believe it or not, countless poor applications are submitted daily for patent approval. I know I recommended going fast and getting things done, but you also need to be diligent.
What constitutes a sub-par application? Often this entails poor drawings or an application that is not in line with the patent office’s guidelines.
These guidelines are rigorous for a reason. Make sure you have a solid understanding of them before filing your application. Better yet, rely on a patent attorney for assistance for filing a patent.
4. Overlooking the importance of non-disclosure agreements.
I know Gary Vee and other entrepreneurs scoff at the idea of NDA’s since speed is so essential, but this can be key in certain markets, or where leverage is lacking.
Inventors who rely on third-party assistance throughout their design process, or any other collaborative means, absolutely must make sure these parties sign non-disclosure agreements. It’s just not worth it for many people, and we’ve all heard the horror stories…
A non-disclosure agreement ensures that anyone involved won’t run out into the world with your idea and patent it themselves.
A lot of inventors don’t cover their bases in this respect, or they do only towards the end of the invention process. It is absolutely crucial to ensure confidentiality during every step of the patent application process.
5. Refusing to collaborate or ask for advice.
If you’ve come up with a fantastic design or idea, it can be tempting to hold on to it and pursue a patent without assistance or collaboration. Wait didn’t I say NDAs might be necessary? They sure are, but people who hid everything rarely get to an amazing invention, and often are just hiding the fact that they have nothing.
However, pursuing an invention patent in an isolated or independent way can be more harmful than designers and inventors realize. Friends and family members can provide valuable insight into your invention–after all, they are consumers too–and help you shape your design to fit the general market’s needs.
Don’t forget your colleagues, it’s important to stay focused on progress while watching the market in general. Other people in similar fields can provide excellent litmus tests for your work.
It is also common for inventors to want to navigate the patent process alone, because of its competitive and legal nature. It’s absolutely important to ask for advice and to make sure you are confident in every step of the process.
Build a trustworthy network of colleagues and friends as you take the patent step, and this will make the path much easier.
6. Not documenting and record-keeping enough–or at all.
Record-keeping is not just for medical and legal offices. In creating your invention or design, keep track of absolutely everything along the way.
This includes all sketches, computer programs, documents, and communications that involve all parts of the invention process.
Date everything that you can, even noting the time if need be. Back up all digital components on an additional hard drive or cloud system. This is not going overboard.
These records and documents will be important for many different legal considerations as you go through with your patent application. Think of it as covering your tracks as you make them.
Inventors who don’t keep good records or documentation of their invention process will encounter immediate and difficult legal obstacles. Forgetting to notate can mean a poor patent application or a legal contest in the future.
7. Pursuing a patent or invention without a plan in mind.
This is one of the biggest mistakes out there when it comes to pursuing an invention patent, and it occurs all the time.
Many inventors pursue a patent blindly, thinking it is an easy process and that they’ll get an approval without much effort. They tend to think only of getting the patent and don’t pay attention to a detailed preliminary plan.
This lack of oversight can set a patent application back in many ways and have legal consequences.
It’s absolutely crucial to think of going about getting a patent as an initial business move. All smart business moves have a strategy and a plan.
Begin by planning out any third party assistance you’ll require, including legal assistance, and strategize how to perform all steps of the patent application process. Write out a timeline and use charts if need be. Brainstorm backup plans and write down any questions you have to ask your attorney.
Having a clear plan is essential to a successful patent.
Some Final Words of Advice
It’s important to keep all of these potential mistakes in mind as you go about getting your patent. You need to be ready for anything.
You also should familiarize yourself with all aspects of the patent process. Know exactly what types of patents there are, and get a solid understanding of what a typical patent examiner does when your application is under review.
Understanding the ins and outs of the entire patent process will additionally help you avoid common mistakes and navigate every step with confidence.
Now that you have a solid grasp of what to avoid when pursuing your patent, it’s time to get started with your patent journey.