Whenever you invent something, you should always try to get it patented. A patent is a form of monopoly that the government grants to an individual or a business entity to prevent others from creating, using, or selling your innovation, even if the infringement is unintentional. Circuits, hardware, software, applied algorithms, formulae, designs, user interfaces, applications, and systems are patentable.
It is not possible to patent scientific principles or pure mathematical techniques. An invention must also pass the non-obviousness test, which is:
Given the previous art at the time of the invention, would a typical engineer be able to –
- Identify the problem and
- Address it using the invention.
Apart from that, you also have to be the “first to file” for a patent, and that too must be done within a year of the first sale, offer for sale, public disclosure, or public usage.
A written description of the claims of the invention must be included in your patent application. Typically, patent protection lasts 15 to 20 years. However to get your patent accepted, it must go through a formal application and examination process.
A business spends roughly $10,000 to $50,000 on each patent filing, which will take one to four years to complete.
Five Basic Things You Need To Know About Patents Preparation
1. What Is A Patent
It is a license issued by a government unit within a jurisdiction that provides the patent holder with exclusive rights to a procedure, design or innovation for a selected duration. Getting the idea patented is secured from any other entity trying to get hold of their intellectual property. It protects your innovation or design from infringement.
There are specific provisions regarding what is patentable. A patentable invention must be novel, non-obvious, and adequately described or enabled with clear claims and definite terms.
2. It Is Impossible To Patent An Idea
It is impossible to get a patent for a shared plan or idea that lacks distinct personification. In order to qualify for a patent, the concept must be formed as a concrete plan or asset, either through the development of a prototype or by detailed depictions and illustrations.
As such, professional help, usually from an attorney is highly recommended when filing a patent.
3. Patents Come In A Variety Of Shapes And Sizes
The innovator or entrepreneur must consider the type of patent they intend to seek for during the patent preparation process. There are different types of patents in the United States. Utility and design patents are the two types of patents.
A utility patent gives you the right to prevent others from making, selling, or importing your innovation without your permission.
Design patents are significant in the case of manufactured items such as furniture. They protect the manufactured items’ distinctive look.
4. The Requirements For Patents Differ From Country To Country
There have been a number of different patent authorities, and there is no single governing body that can issue internationally applicable patents. The “United States Patent, Trademark Office” issues patents in the United States (USPTO). In particular, the USPTO specifically examines applications for patents to determine if the applicants are entitled to patents and grants the patents if they are.
It allows innovators to file a provisional patent application first. The latter labels inventors’ inventions as pending patents for a year, during which one can ascertain the marketability of their invention.
5. The First Person To File A Patent Is The Winner
Since America Invents Act passed, a first-to-file approach to patents has been used instead of a first-to-invent method. This means that if more than one applicant submits an application for the same patent, the patent will be given to the applicant who submits the application first.
The redesigned US system, on the other hand, eliminates inequity. The current U.S patent system also issues inventors a grace period for filing applications at the USPTO.
Types Of Patents
1. Utility Patents
A utility patent protects the function of an invention. Any new, useful, and non-obvious process, the machine, manufactured article, the composition of matter, software, or any new and useful enhancements to an invention, product, or process is given a utility patent.
A utility patent has a twenty-year duration from the date of filing. Because utility patents are more valuable than design patents,
2. Design Patents
A design patent protects an invention’s look and is given for any novel, original, and ornamental design for a manufactured object.
A design patent has a fourteen-year duration from the date of issuance. If the look of the invention is significant, a design patent should be sought; otherwise, utility patent protection should be sought. Patent term adjudication is similar to utility patent adjudication.
3. Plant Patents
Anyone who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces any different and novel variety of plant other than a tuber propagated plant is issued a plant patent.
For twenty years after the filing date, the owner of a plant patent has the right to prevent others from asexually reproducing the plant, selling, or utilizing the plant so reproduced.
Utility patent applications are divided into two categories:
- Provisional applications and
- Non-provisional applications.
A provisional patent application (PPA) is an inexpensive approach that preserves your rights while you are deciding whether to file a regular utility patent application. A Provisional Patent Application (PPA) provides you with a one-year option to later acquire a regular patent if your invention becomes valuable for a low investment. Basically, it is a placeholder so that you can claim priority to the PPA’s earlier filing date when you later convert it into a utility patent application.
Note that the value of your Provisional Patent Application is only as valuable as the care and thought you put into it. Errors and inaccuracies will undo your protection. A complete detailed write-up of your invention in the PPA, along with a professional review, may ensure maximum protection for your invention.
There are also a lot of checkboxes you need to tick for your patent application to get admitted and accepted.
For example, to get a patent, a legal or natural person must file an application with a patent office that has jurisdiction to grant a patent in the geographic area where coverage is necessary. A patent is issued once the patent specification conforms to the laws of the office concerned. Thus, an inventor has to go through the entire patent process to get it.
The Purpose Of A Provisional Patent
While provisional patent applications (PPAs) can be filed with minimal expense, PPAs need to be converted to a non-provisional patent application within a year for the invention to be protected as an issued patent.
You can file the utility application without a prior PPA filing. Alternatively, suppose you filed a PPA earlier.
In that case, you can convert the PPA into a utility application by filing the utility application within one year of the PPA filing and claiming the priority date of the PPA.
Suppose that your application is properly claimed and the PPA has sufficient details as in the utility application. In that case, the effective date of the utility will be the filing date of the PPA, even though the utility is filed months after the PPA.
It takes an average of 2.29 years in the United States to receive a patent after filing a patent application. However, the choices people make with their applications at the various stages of the patent application and prosecution process significantly impact how long a patent application takes.
It is feasible to file for a provisional patent. One can expedite the patent application process in the U.S to get it within one year. If one chooses to use a slow application process, the patent costs will be fairly distributed across the entire period.
It may take 36 months for the patent to be awarded to the inventor in a slow patent process. There are several options regarding the patent application. When an applicant has a provisional patent, they have the power to submit a file application and get a filing date.
The patent filing process is sequential, involving various steps until the patent is awarded.
The fee for submitting a provisional patent application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office is included in a provisional patent filing (USPTO). Additionally, hiring a patent attorney to assist you with your provisional patent application would set you back around $2,000 extra.
Small businesses must pay a preliminary patent price of $130, while large businesses must pay a preliminary patent price of $450. The fundamental reason for the cheaper cost of a provisional patent application is that it does not require the same amount of formalities as a utility (non-provisional) application.
Like a non-provisional patent application, the provisional patent application requires you to give all relevant information regarding your invention.
More specifically, if a non-provisional patent application is filed within one year of the provisional patent application’s filing date, the non-provisional patent application may claim the benefit of the provisional patent application’s filing date.
Starting with a provisional patent application can be advantageous in a variety of situations. For example, when an invention’s concept isn’t fully developed or the patent applicant is short on initial investment cash.
Currently, inventors who wish to file a provisional patent application with the USPTO have several options. Each of these options has pros and cons:
Filing A Provisional Patent Application
Option No. 1 – Do It Yourself
Self-complete and submit an online patent application form: Many young inventors choose to complete and file a patent form on their own to save money on legal fees, which can reach hundreds of dollars. Forms can be found in self-help books and software.
This is a simple and quick solution but can well be a very difficult task. You do manage to save money.
But, your chances of securing your concept are considerably decreased if you do not prepare your provisional application in the format recommended for a utility application (you will have to convert your provisional patent into a full utility patent later) and include an in-depth description of your invention.
Plus, any mistakes in the application can open it to getting challenged and revoked later on by your competitors.
Several entrepreneurs do, however, try to protect their intellectual property without qualified legal assistance – and commonly, it is for the protection of trademarks and copyright.
However, patenting is much more complicated than that. As such, going at it alone might not be a good idea, especially if you think that the technology that you wish to patent, is worth a lot of money.
Option No. 2 – Getting An Attorney To Do It For You
Find a good patent attorney and file a patent application with the help of a professional. This is the most professional way of dealing with the situation.
However, it can be quite costly. Depending on the complexity of your innovation and other circumstances, the cost of preparing a patent application through a patent attorney and seeing it through to approval can range from $3,500 to $ 15,000. The differences in cost may occur due to complications that may arise in the case of a utility patent.
Option No. 3
Use AI technology to document your invention in a detailed, high-quality form that is easily reviewable by an attorney to increase the speed of filing while at a lower cost. This is a new concept that is slowly gathering recognition in the US. It helps improve the quality of the patent draft and allows for diagnostic checks on the text, thus making way for a much easier filing by the attorney at a vastly reduced cost.
Some examples of such organizations are PowerPatent, and PatentPC.com, which use the help of AI in order to draft patents at a considerably lesser time and at around 70% less cost. You can then ask these organizations to review the draft patent application with the help of their own expert patent attorneys or you can do it yourself and get the whole process over with at a much lower price point and much faster as well.
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Author Bio: Adhip Ray is a startup consultant, the founder of a startup consultancy WinSavvy.com and an advisor at PatentPC.com. Although he hails from a finance and legal background with twin specializations in intellectual property rights and corporate law, he has been a marketing geek since 2015. He is also an author at HubSpot, Investing.com, Addicted2Success, StartupNation, and several other business publications.
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