If you have a great idea for a new invention, then you may already be considering filing for a patent. Of course, obtaining a patent is the first step to protecting a new product idea, but you don't want to rush into filing a patent before you know exactly what you are getting into and how to fill out that patent application properly. In the best-case scenario, a patent application that is not completed fully and accurately could cost you the filing fee when you have to re-file and fix the mistakes you made the first time. In the worst-case scenario, someone could steal your idea or simply think of it on their own before you ever patent your product, costing you any revenue you could have earned from the idea and resulting product.
Read on to learn 3 common mistakes that have been made by other inventors during the patent filing process, so you don't make them yourself.
1. Filing for a Patent Before You Fully Design Your Product
Patents are issued to products and not ideas, but the good news is that you don't have to have a working prototype of your product made just yet to obtain a patent. However, when filing for a patent, you must describe your product in very specific terms, so if you don't plan to create a working prototype before filling out a patent application, you must at least have it fully designed to the point where your product description would enable another person to actually make it and use it.
Your description must include the size of the invention, the material(s) it is made out of, and other details that may not have come to you yet since you came up with your idea. If you proposed product has moving parts, then you should wait until you have a fully working prototype to file for a patent. Why? Even if you have a design that you think is perfect, you may find ways to improve it once it is actually created or, even worse, find out that your design was "off" and it doesn't even work correctly.
To save you a lot of hassle, time, and money, it is best to have a prototype before you file a patent application or, at the least, a full design that you have dedicated lots of time to perfecting.
2. Selling Your Product Before Beginning the Patent Process
Once you make that prototype and find out that your product really works well and, in your eyes, is even absolutely amazing, you may be tempted to make some quick cash and sell a few before you apply for a patent. However, before you sell or use your product in public to get a head-start on building up word-of-mouth about it, it is important to know that you have just 12 months from the time your product is "publicly disclosed" to patent it. After 12 months, it is considered "prior art" and not patent-able.
So before you begin selling or even marketing your product, it is best to file for a patent. Why not wait six months? While legal, this could still lead to trouble. If you don't patent your product before selling it, an unscrupulous business could begin making it and try to patent it themselves. While, with the help of a good patent attorney, you could likely prove that the invention was truly yours with enough evidence, it is best to avoid this possibility to begin with.
3. Not Hiring Professional to Perform a Patent Search
Once you have your product fully designed, it is important to have a patent search performed before you file for a patent. Why? If your product is too similar to one that has already been patented, then filing for a patent yourself will simply be a waste of time, effort, and even lead a huge disappointment in the end. Even if you "do everything right" during the patent application product, your patent will simply be denied if something else is already patented that is too similar.
It is very important to have a good patent attorney who has access to all of the patent search engines available only to professionals look for similar patents before you even begin your patent application process. If there are no similar products, then your mind can be eased and you can move closer to your dream of being the inventor of a revolutionary new product. If there is a similar product patented, then you can "go back to the drawing board" and think of your next big invention.
To learn more or get started, contact firms like Thompson Patent Law.