You’ve developed or you’re creating an invention that solves a problem, and now you’re ready to reap the rewards. If you’re like most inventors, you’ll want to make money off of your invention while protecting your intellectual property rights at the same time.
But, do you need a patent attorney?
This question really boils down to another: Do you need a patent? These questions go hand-in-hand. Obtaining a patent isn’t like going to the store for a gallon of milk.
It’s an expensive, detailed, and lengthy process that you want to get right the first time.
In this guide, we’re going to explore both questions in detail, as well as discussing the various types of patents and what they do.
Keep reading to learn exactly how you can protect your invention.
What Is a Patent?
It’s not enough to define a patent by saying it protects your idea. There are specifics you need to understand before you consider applying for one at all.
Here are some of the most important:
- Patents provide negative rights. There are many types of rights you can legally own. Negative rights may sound like a bad thing, but they’re not. Negative rights simply restrict capabilities.
- While patents themselves don’t stop others from producing, utilizing, or marketing your invention, they give you legal grounds to stop them.
- Patents last for 20 years. This should be enough time to sell your invention. Once they expire, they enter the public domain.
Once expired, anyone can make, use, or sell your invention without giving credit to you. It’s rarely worth it to try to renew a patent, as this requires an act of Congress.
3 Types of Patent a Patent Attorney Can Help You With
The United States government issues three different types of patents:
- Utility patents – These protect the function of an invention
- Design patents – These offer intellectual property protection for aesthetic concerns
- Plant patents – These cover botanical inventions
All three of these patent types can be applied for on a provisional basis.
The Patent Process
So, you have had the light bulb moment and you’ve worked on your great idea.
How do you actually secure a patent?
First thing’s first.
1. Conduct a Patent Search
Once you’re certain there’s a market for your invention, the next step is to conduct a patent search.
Sounds straightforward enough, right?
Actually, they can be a little more complicated than anticipated.
Let’s enter the following common scenario:
Suppose you invent a new kind of phone. You decide to do your own patent search so you look for existing applications for phone patents.
All looks great. Full steam ahead.
The US Patent Office may use another category to classify that type of patent.
Your no-competition patent actually has plenty of competition.
In fact, there may be several patent applications in process for your invention.
In this scenario, your lifelong dream may quickly become a resounding nightmare.
That’s why you’ll need a patent attorney – an expert who knows the categories used to classify patent applications.
By using one, you’ll get more accurate results and you’ll save yourself a ton of heartache later down the line.
2. Patent Application
The next step is to apply for your patent.
Accuracy is crucial here. Any errors can result in having to start over and, starting over doesn’t just mean trawling through forms again.
Worse than that, it means another application fee and another waiting period to boot.
Once your application is acknowledged, it will be reviewed by the Patent Office.
Your application – which can take up to 18 months to receive a response – will either be:
- Accepted and granted pendency
- Rejected altogether.
If rejected, you can reapply but you’ll want the advice of an experienced patent attorney on what steps to follow next.
Things to Bear in Mind
In America, we have a first-to-file method with regard to patents.
What does this mean?
Put simply, if you apply for a provisional patent in January 2018, and a competitor files in February 2018, you are the first to file. In this case, the patent goes to you.
If you’re in the midst of developing your invention, and you apply for a provisional patent, and the description of your invention changes, it can null the original application.
Patents can be expensive to obtain.
And, while the type of patent you seek is one of the most important considerations, other factors, like application length are equally so.
The price tag can continue to rise, depending on your invention and your application. For example, you can expedite your application for $4,000.
Since patent applications can be costly, you want yours to be accurate and correct.
A patent attorney may charge fees, but those fees are more than worth it if you need to get the application right the first time round.
Protecting Your Idea With a Patent Attorney
After you sell your invention, you have up to 12 months to complete the patent procurement process. Whether you choose to apply for your patent before you sell your invention or not is up to you.
Sounds more complicated than you originally thought?
It can be. Patents can be tricky if you don’t get the right advice. Here are some specific ways a patent attorney can help:
- They can determine whether an invention is patentable
- They can create and file all the necessary documentation
- They’ll perform patent research
- They’ll file the application and fees
- They’ll liaise with the United States Patent Office
Of course, you can attempt to do all of these things on your own. But, wouldn’t you rather focus on the sale and marketing of your invention? Or, better yet, wouldn’t you like to begin your next breakthrough development?
Are You Ready to Patent?
If you’re thinking about selling your invention, get in touch today.
You’ve thought of a great idea. You’ve put a ton of work into bringing that idea to fruition.
Now, you deserve to protect your intellectual property. Now, you deserve to reap the rewards of what you have sown.