Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Top Ten FAQ about the US Patent Process
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.