Filing for a patent is complex, time-consuming and highly technical. The guidelines for what can and can’t be patented are lengthy but put simply, your invention must be NEW – it must have an inventive element that is not known to anyone else and is capable of being made or used in some kind of industry. There is a whole raft of things an invention is not for e.g. a theory, an artistic work, a type of animal, a method of medical treatment – none of these can be patented.
- Collect everything – every document and process will be examined as part of your application so be thorough.
- Be patient – you are in for the long haul. It can be 18 months before your application is published for inspection by the patent office and up to four years before it is approved, if viable.
- Be educated – there is a plethora of advice on good patent filing practice online so avail yourself fully (see Resources Section).
What will a patent give you?
The patent, once granted, offers you various protections and opportunities. You can:
- Sell the invention and associated intellectual property rights
- License the invention to someone else
- Discuss the invention with others in order to set up a business based around the invention
When to apply for a patent?
Before you start talking! As soon as you start sharing any information about your invention, you are in danger of invalidating your patent application. At trade fairs, with friends, with staff – any of these conversations can potentially undermine your patent getting granted. Be diligent with your use of Non-Disclosure Agreements, including within your own company.
Will I make money from my patent?
The simple answer is, not necessarily. A patent does not entitle you to monetize your invention. Yes, it affords you protection but turning it into profit requires a strong strategy to exploit its individuality in the marketplace. Some use patents strategically to block competitors in their sector, with no intention of bringing their product to market. Some file as a glory project, wanting the recognition of being an inventor. But for the serious creator, patents are an important step in innovation and securing a valuable IP asset.
Seek allies with professionals!
Seriously consider harnessing the specialist expertise within the patent world. There is a vast variety of professionals who will save you not just money but time, from searching IP landscapes through to the application process.
Technology can be a powerful tool for patent seekers, from AI powered solutions such as those provided by PatSnap to patent searching tools, freedom to operate support and patent claim drafting advice, from a plethora of third parties.
A patent can provide you with both protection and commercial options for your invention. Know the market for your opportunity, research thoroughly any potential prior art to be confident in your filing. The key to a successful application is detailed research and understanding of the process before you make the commitment to file. Patent professionals and technology can be significant assets for the patent filing process. Be prepared for the back and forth of the patent prosecution process working with the examiners to secure your granted patent. It’s a long game, stay the course!
- The United States Patent and Trademark Office – https://www.uspto.gov
- World Intellectual Property Organization – https://www.wipo.int
- PatSnap – https://www.patsnap.com
Author: Inga Brydson, Director of Marketing