For the novice inventor, it is difficult to know when to apply for a patent to protect your intellectual property. Sometimes, the tendency is to “jump the gun” and apply before you are fully satisfied with the invention. Here are some guidelines to help you decide the optimum time to go ahead. First are some cautions:
- Don’t make the mistake of applying when you are in the idea stage. An idea may not be feasible, and will definitely be difficult to describe in detail. The patent application requires a thorough description, accompanied by detailed drawings. What you envision in your head and what you will eventually end up with may differ considerably.
- You may have a wonderful invention without a good market. Marketability may prove to be great in a demographic other than your own. Your invention may be ahead of its time (or behind!). The bottom line is, unless your product will sell, there is no sense spending the time and expense to have it patented. Sadly, the majority of inventions that receive patents never make it to store shelves, either because they are not sellable, or the right manufacturer and marketer has not been found.
So what should you do before applying for a patent? First things first:
- When your idea begins to take shape in your imagination, buy a notebook to record and date your thoughts and every advancement you make, whether they are failures or successes. It is best to use an inventor’s notebook, specifically made for this purpose. Have someone you trust witness each page you complete. This can be very important in proving your rights as the primary creator.
- Do a patent search early on. It would be frustrating to put much time and money into your invention to discover that someone else has already patented it. Once you have developed it to the point when a professional should see it, have them do a more thorough search, as this can be difficult for a novice.
- Building a model, called a prototype, will aid you immensely in developing, improving, and doing the final tweaking of your invention. Only a prototype can prove to you and others that your idea is actually feasible.
- When you believe you have reached the point that others may be interested in paying for your genius, take it to a trade show. Market response there could be the proof you need to validate your creation. This is called public disclosure. From that point on, you will have one year in which to apply for a patent. Use that time to make any improvements suggested to you by professionals or potential buyers.
- If you are still not certain that you have reached the final state of perfection, you may file for a provisional patent (U.S.) or the equivalent preliminary filing (Canada), buying more time before your final application.
Along the way, seek the aid of a professional with a proven success record, such as Vince the Patent Guy of Innovative Licensing.Posted in Uncategorized