For a tech business, filing a patent application is a crucial step if you want to defend and commercialize the invention. But in the course of a long and expensive filing process, it is easy to make mistakes, especially if you don’t have much experience managing a patent portfolio.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind in order to avoid 6 most common patent mistakes:
1. Don’t Just Patent A Mere Idea
The invention itself must be rendered in a physical structure or the patent application comprising the invention must be filed with the patent and trademark office concerned (ideally US Patents and Trademarks – USPTO). While all ideas start with a thought, only one out of each odd thought can be called an innovation. The concept of a patent must be “useful, innovative and non-obvious.” While these definitions may seem vague, they are explicitly defined by patent law.
“Useful” here implies that the invention has an important purpose. “lnnovative” here implies that one can utilize your concept and there is no prior art of the same. “Non-obvious” here implies that no one from your industry can think of making any enhancements or modifications that would result in your invention.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office publishes a set of review rules to explain these seemingly subjective conditions of a novel invention. Use these guidelines as a guide to determine whether you have a patentable invention.
2. Don’t Wait Too Long To Start Patent Application
The patent application is extremely time-sensitive, and most people wait too long to even think about starting the process. For example, many rely on a one-year “grace period” under U.S. law that allows you to file a U.S. patent application within one year of selling the idea and publicly announcing the invention.
Alternatively, depending on the grace period, a contender can take advantage and file their own patent application. Additionally, most nations do not have a similar one-year grace period, and patent rights are forfeited outside the U.S. – unless you file a patent application before any official announcement is made.
The patent determines not only the viability of your company, but also its financial future. If you do not patent your invention at the earliest opportunity and someone else does, you could be sued for misuse of the patent and forced to close – even if you were the original inventor.
Therefore, think ahead and start planning to file your patent application far ahead of time before you make any public disclosures about your invention.
3. Look For Other Options Apart From Google For Patent Search
The invention is patentable when you are the first to come up with it in a country or the world. You should guarantee that you are the sole parent of the idea and that someone else has not previously filed a patent for the invention.
To conduct a patent search, your first reaction may be to Google the said invention. However, the internet is not a trustworthy database to run patent search. It is quite likely that many patent applications have been denied but are still on the internet.
Second, it may not be clear whether a current patent that identifies with your innovation covers your creation or not.
Third, as an inventor, you need to uphold impartially. As you scan and read patents that are associated with your invention, you may be influenced by what you read, taking a chance with the uniqueness of your creativity.
Alternatively, focus on creating the best description of your invention, and, after a quick search, rely on an expert to get further into the weeds of patent hunting.
4. Don’t Submit A Vague Application
The USPTO has very strict rules for patent applications and you will face automatic rejection if you don’t follow those rules. Your patent drawings are the easiest part to patent, however, if the application is not submitted correctly, a first-time applicant might face automatic rejection. For your patent application, it is better to employ patent attorneys because they understand the rules and can guarantee that your application is not dismissed for a rookie mistake.
5. Don’t Get Too Specific, Too Soon
When explaining your creation to key partners, it’s imperative to put out specifics of the invention. For instance, specify the following:
- What the experience closely resembles;
- Settings in which it very well may be utilized;
- Who your target audience is; and who it isn’t?
While the particulars of a patent application are important, begin with a general description. This gives your patent application a broad reach rather than categorizing you into an overly specific image. For example, if you invented a new aerodynamic fabric with which you are designing shorts, patenting “aerodynamic running shorts” would not cover future uses of your fabric, such as shirts or jackets. The patent should be for aerodynamic material, and possible uses for it, e.g. shorts running.
Begin with a general description of your invention, then provide examples of how it might be used.
6. Don’t Be Untimely With Your Submission
Before propelling your product or service to people in general, you will probably invest time testing its usefulness and plan of action while gathering input from analysers. This is a crucial step in the process of creativity. When you’ve characterized your creation, work in parallel to file your application.
It is important to note that you are only granted one year after your invention is first publicly revealed for the purpose of filing a patent application, after which the idea is not protected.
The patent filing process requires careful examination as it’s a one-time process that should be thorough and prompt. Once filed, the process cannot be undone, which is why you need proper guidance, which is best handled by experts.