When you come up with a fantastic idea, you know there is always a chance that someone will come up with the same idea. Or that someone sees yours and copies it. Hence, you might want to patent it straight away so you can sleep easier at night knowing your idea is safe.
Unfortunately, the patent office does not work like that. In fact, it can be rather slow. Here’s why:
They need to do thorough research
Imagine you apply for a patent. The person in the patent office takes a quick look at your application, asks their colleague if they have heard of anything similar, and when they reply no, stamps your form with “patent approved.”
It wouldn’t work, and it wouldn’t give anyone (including you) any security. Thorough checks are crucial to the integrity of patents. Otherwise, you will have a situation where people who believe they were the first ones to invent something find their rights infringed, and those who believe they are cleared to invest in a product later find their money wasted if someone else already patented the idea.
Patent approval can take up to 22 months
That is a long time to go unprotected, so what you might want to do is file for a 12-month provisional patent first. That should hopefully alert the patent office if someone else tries to patent the same idea or one that is too close.
There are also steps you can take to increase the chance of a quick patent resolution – one free of any delays due to lack of information, for example. Seek legal help to understand more about protecting your inventions.