Most of us, at some point in our lives, have thought of an idea which we believed would be the ’Next Big Thing’. But how many of us actually do something big with that idea? Not many. This is because of the lack of knowledge of what exactly should be done once you have an idea; how much cost and time will be involved and what process needs to be followed.
An idea, per se, cannot be protected, however, a system or method implementing that idea can be. This can be done by filing for a patent which would disclose the new idea in a descriptive format.
A patent is complex and it costs a good amount of money to file and later maintain. Before one moves forward with the patent filing process, it is important to identify whether or not an idea can be patented. This can be achieved by asking three simple questions.
- Novelty: Has anybody ever thought of this idea before?
- Non-obvious: Will the idea be obvious to any person experienced in the related field?
- Utility: Is there any reason why people might not find it useful?
If the answer to all the above questions is ‘NO’, you can move forward with filing a patent for your idea.
Here is a list of the best practices you should follow to keep the patent filing process as easy as possible:
Have enough Money and Time: There are several fees that need to be paid while filing a patent with the patent office. Nobody understands your invention better than you, so your time is crucial for the patent. Make sure to have enough time and money to go right through till the end.
Hire a good Patent Attorney: A good Patent Attorney will help you right from the Patent filing process till the patent is granted and maybe later as well if you decide to sue someone who is using your invention without your permission. A patent attorney with good knowledge of the patent law, rules and Office practices and procedures will help you make the right decisions to protect your invention correctly.
Prepare the Technical Disclosure: Write in complete detail all that your invention entails and can achieve. A brief summary of your invention, references to other previous related applications, description of the best implementation of your invention should be written and reviewed by a legal professional. If applicable, drawings should also be included.
Craft your Claims: The claims are the heart of a patent. They define the limits of exactly what the patent does, and does not, cover. Once granted, you will have the right to exclude others from making, using or selling, only those things which are described by the claims. Claims are not written, they are crafted so as to cover exactly the right amount of protection you need. Take help from your patent attorney or a patent drafting professional.
Get a comprehensive search done: Use a good IP firm or an IP Professional to get a Patentability search done to clearly understand whether your idea is actually new and nobody in the world has ever thought of it till date.
Recheck twice: Once the complete patent disclosure containing Abstract, Background, Description, and Claims is ready, recheck it twice to make sure you aren’t missing anything. Amendments to the application can be made later, but it is mostly limited to the claims. Hence, make sure you have a complete disclosure of the entire invention within the description of the application.
File the application: Fill out the patent information on the application correctly. The filing date, inventor name, application number and your signature must be stated clearly. All application parts should be filed together and submitted. The application can also be filled conveniently online on Patent office’s electronic filing systems for patent applications.
Pay the Fees: Make sure to pay all the required fees at the time of filing the patent application.
Appeal any adverse decisions: Your application should be prosecuted and pursued through a Patent Office. The patent office will put forward several evidences to try to prove that your invention is not new and that it should not be granted. Understand the rejections and respond to them with counter arguments.
Don’t miss Deadlines: Always give thorough attention to all deadlines on the application form. Make sure to adhere to all the important deadlines. Generally, the deadlines can be extended but that comes at an extra cost.
Maintain your IP: Lastly, don’t forget to pay your maintenance fees timely to keep your patent alive.
That’s all to it. If you follow these simple steps, filing for a patent becomes much easier and fun. Once the patent is granted, you can either manufacture and sell your patented invention yourself or license it to others who are willing. You can also get an Infringement search performed from an IP firm to identify products from companies that might be using your technology without your knowledge.
For any further questions, feel free to comment or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet the Author:
Manager – Client Engagement
Jay has extensive experience in Intellectual Property consulting. He has been helping clients across the globe in achieving their business goals. He has consulted thousands of individual inventors to get patents for their inventions, monetize them and unlock the real value of their IP. He loves golf and spends all his free time reading fiction.