Patents For Entrepreneurs: Protecting Your Inventions
Being an inventor is no picnic as you may know, though we still need inventions to keep entrepreneurship going around the world. Yet, with so many inventions out there (and only a few succeeding), it might feel like a losing battle. Then add in how many people collide creatively on inventions, proving original ideas arguably aren't all that original anymore.
At the heart of this is protection, and patents for entrepreneurs should become a top priority. As an inventor yourself, don't think your idea is so original that someone else won't get to the finish line first.
The chances are, someone in the U.S. or world is likely tinkering away inventing something similar to your product. Patenting needs doing now, though it's common to see delays, as well as other patent mistakes made.
Let's take a look at what to avoid, and why obtaining a patent now can make you a desirable business venture for venture capitalists.
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Doing a Proper Patent Search
One major faux pas inventors make is not doing a thorough patent search to see if their invention already exists. Filing a patent is an expensive and lengthy process, so you have to know whether you can realistically obtain a patent.
The problem is that even a general patent search could end up finding nothing in the records. As many IP experts note, it doesn't mean there still isn't something out there on file.
It's all the more reason to do a more thorough search in the bowels of cyberspace. If you feel like you can do it on your own, you need a lot of knowledge to know how the Patent Office clarifies inventions.
You're better off using a professional patent searcher so you can get more knowledge on whether a similar invention already has patents pending. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has such a search service...of course, for a fee.
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Waiting Too Long to Patent After Selling Your Invention
The Patent Office gives you twelve months to patent your invention after you've placed it on the market for sale, or sell to another company. Don't wait beyond this twelve-month period, or you'll be out of luck on obtaining a patent.
It's easy to get caught up in all the excitement about selling your invention to a big company. While you'll maybe think money is raining from heaven initially, forgetting to patent it is only going to place you in jeopardy. You'll be in danger of being unable to protect yourself and continue making money off the item.
Provision patent claims are a good way to get in line for your patent within this twelve-month period without having to go through all the formalities of a non-provisional claim.
Still, you might have one specific challenge when filing early.
Not Adequately Disclosing Your Invention
When you file early before selling your invention, be sure to disclose all details about your item since things could change later. Some inventors end up filing early without providing necessary information to bring full protection. If you discover this after selling your invention, you may have to fill out a new application again.
As you can see, you may have to play psychic and see what's needed to disclose about your invention within a year's time to avoid complications.
Patents Making You Attractive to Companies
Despite the new "First to File" rule of U.S. patents being like running a marathon, all the time, money, and effort could pay off. Selling your patent to a company usually can't happen anyway without proof of patents.
As Inc. reminds, most companies want invention patents filed before committing to buying. Even so, they're still apt to commit if you have at least a provision claim. In addition, you asking the licensee to pay for the patent is a clever win-win business negotiation.