If you have a brilliant idea for a product, you may be itching to move your idea through the design phase and into production. You may also be thinking about selling it to a large corporation. Either way, obtaining patent protection for your invention is usually the best way to protect your invention.
Even if you are a quick learner, the patent process is not a DIY project. There are unfortunately countless ways to make costly mistakes when patenting an invention. Here are three common ones.
Waiting too long
It can be tempting to wait to apply for a patent until you have all the bugs worked out of your design. Waiting too long, though, can be a recipe for disaster for a couple of reasons.
First, someone may patent your idea before you do. Even if you thought of your design first, the US patent law now is a ‘race to the patent office’, where the first to file a patent application – where 2 inventors are applying for the same invention – wins the patent.
Second, there are limits to how long one can wait after a product or invention is first publicized or sold, and the filing of a patent application. It is best to file an application before any such first publication, use or sale.
Missing the technical details
Your idea may be a perfect candidate for a patent. Unless you get all the technical details of your patent application right, though, you may fail to obtain approval of your patent. This is where the experience of a patent attorney can be invaluable, as the success of many applications depends on familiarity with the law, technology, and best practices.
Failing to conduct a thorough search
While not required, it is a good idea to have a patent attorney perform a patentability search prior to the filing of a patent application. This is useful in at least two ways.
First, if the exact idea has previously been patented or applied for, then you of course cannot get your own patent, and knowing this after an initial search prevents a lot of unnecessary cost and time.
More commonly, knowing the closest ‘prior art’ to your invention can be very helpful to your patent attorney, who can emphasize those aspects of your invention which differ from what has been done before.