The APS introduces a new, customized legal instrument called the Provisional Disclosure. This form can be used to permanently announce possession of intellectual property, as of the date that it is signed by a qualified witness. The Provisional Disclosure system allows you to establish ownership and originality of an idea, at several key stages of development.
It is free to use, as many times as you wish. Simply click on the image of the APS Provisional Disclosure form, and print it out. Then, fill in the information at the top of the form, and follow the Directions carefully.
When it is received, it will be kept on file with APS for two full years, at no charge. You may use a number of these forms over time, to track your development through several stages, and establish diligence in your progress towards a reduction-to-practice. (Contact APS to learn more about these stages, and the importance of reaching the point of reduction-to-practice in a timely manner.) Once you’ve reached that point, the Provisional Disclosure can be used as an effective claim to intellectual property rights. It will be necessary to file for a patent, to have those rights legally granted by United States. However, having your achievement reviewed and witnessed by a registered practitioner will greatly corroborate your date of invention, especially when that date is much earlier than your patent filing date.
You have the option to have your Provisional Disclosure preserved indefinitely, for a one-time fee of $40. (Add $10 for check or money order, made payable to the Affordable Patent Service). This service includes a professional mark of authenticity, which affirms true understanding of the invention itself, by an authorized agent.
Here's a summary of the Directions on the form:
1. Use the box below to describe...
In the space provided, accurately describe what your invention is, and what it does. If there isn’t enough room to fully describe your invention, then attach as many sheets as you need, or other media, to the form. Checkmark the appropriate items to the right, and make a list of the attachments inside the box (example “See attachments: two sheets of drawings, and 1 sheet of specification”).
2. Petition Qualified Person...
For each form, it is best to allow the Affordable Patent Service to determine what stage you have reached with your invention. If you do, then leave the “STAGES OF DEVELOPMENT” section blank. Otherwise, find a qualified person of your choice to attest to your current stage of development. (Make sure the contact info is readable.) Please refer to the chart at the bottom of the form to see the qualifications necessary for each stage.
3. Check Publishing Options...
If you would like the form posted on the web, or printed in a publication, then checkmark one or both of these items. You would be contacted for confirmation, before anything was made public. (For more details on this, contact the Affordable Patent Service.)
4. Mail a true copy of this form...
Sending the original of your form is preferred, however, sending a true copy (digital scan, photocopy, etc.) is acceptable. The form that you send will be returned to you, after your materials have been received.
5. Enclose the appropriate fee.
This fee is only necessary for a permanent record, a mark of authentication, or a request to have the form published.
If the Provisional Disclosure is used to verify a reduction-to-practice (or a constructive RTP), it can be much more powerful than a patent alone. Since the form will stand up in a court of law, as a legal document, it effectively grants reliable proof in the disclosure, transfer, and perpetuation of sustainable information. It is therefore considered an instrument (and method) of purveyance.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
WOULD I NEED A PATENT TO MAKE A PRODUCT GO BIG?
Yes, probably more than 95% of the time, you would.
OKAY, I HAVE AN IDEA. WHERE DO I START?
Start by taking a single piece of paper and documenting the idea in whatever way suits you best. Make sure that it stands alone and provides clarity. This will help you to fully embrace your idea.
CAN I DO MY OWN SEARCH?
Yes, and a pretty decent one, I might add.
HOW DO I KNOW IF A SEARCH IS GOOD ENOUGH?
When you conduct a preliminary search, you’re looking for anything that would blow you out of the water. But, there is really no way to guarantee that any search will be good enough. Making an informed decision, and being able to recommend whether or not to move forward, comes with knowledge and experience.
IS THERE ANY REASON TO FILE A PROVISIONAL?
Yes, definitely. It’s way quicker, which can be a factor when time is critical. There are many fewer technical requirements to be met, with a provisional patent application. So, you can simply secure an earlier filing date at a lower cost.
WHAT IF I FILE FOR A PATENT, AND FIND OUT LATER THAT SOMEONE ELSE BEAT ME TO THE PUNCH?
There may be no other way TO find that out. You’d never know until you try. You might even admit that it would be worth some expense anyway, just to know. And, it wouldn’t be good to let any more time pass, before you establish your own filing date.
HOW LONG WOULD IT TAKE TO GET MY FILING DATE?
With a fully developed idea, it can take anywhere from 24 hours to a month. It usually takes a week or two. It all depends on a number of key factors.
SHOULD I PUBLICIZE MY IDEA WHILE IT IS PATENT PENDING?
Most often, yes, but that’s subject to some debate. Spreading the idea around, will increase the number of opportunities that come your way. In today’s fast-paced business world, the benefit of a well-chimed product debut can outweigh any risk involved with an early publication. Either way, you’re not going to stop the imitators. All you can do is take them to court and accept the compliment, if need be.
IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO TO SPEED UP THE PROCESS?
Yes, you can invent something that improves the environment and betters humanity, or you can wait until you are a senior citizen. If you have a computer-related invention, there is also a new procedure in place at the USPTO that you can apply for, called the CPR project. This is a special program that is said to accelerate the examination process and increase the likelihood of a rock-solid patent deed.
However, depending on your target market, there may be certain reasons why you would want to actually extend the pending period as long you can. Filing one or more provisional applications, and managing a lengthy examination process can both serve to effectively prolong your ‘patent pending’ status with the USPTO.
WHAT DO I DO WHEN MY PATENT GETS ISSUED?
Have a party. Invite your patent agent (optional). And, pinpoint the commercial options that have now become widely available to you.