July 6, 2022
Brand Trademark

Filing a Patent

filing a patent

 Filing a Patent

You’ve likely landed on this article because you have created something that is worth protecting. But what exactly is it that you want to project? Read on for information on filing a patent. 

Brands, ideas, and inventions are critical assets that should be guarded no matter what the price, especially if you are hoping to grow and scale your business. But first and foremost, you must determine what type of intellectual property protection you require. There are five types of intellectual property, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, marketing plans, and trade secrets, and they aren’t mutually exclusive. You might even need combined forms of protection.

Now, if you have done your research and come to the conclusion that your intellectual property needs to be patented, you’ll want to keep reading. Below, you’ll find a high-level overview of what steps you’ll need to take in order to secure your invention.

Why File a Patent?

If you want to protect your original inventions and ideas from being copied, sold, or manufactured by others, you must secure your rights. Patents give you the security you require for your business to thrive and outshine potential competitors. It’s like insurance for your brand – you may never have to use it, but if a day arrives that you need to whip it out, you won’t have to worry about losing much because of the security measures you took from the get go. All the time you invest now will, in turn,  save you more precious time and effort in the long run.

With a patent, no unauthorized user can replicate, use, sell, rent, import, or manufacture your invention without your approval. This added protection will help you earn money in the case that someone wants to license or buy the rights to your invention, and can help you earn money if people maliciously or accidentally attempt to steal your ideas. 

How to File a Patent

Before getting down to business, make sure you are able to explain your invention in layman’s terms and understand it to the core. Identify all aspects that make your invention new and useful, and write them down! 

Now, without further ado, let’s pick apart the patent filing process. 

  • Make sure your patent passes five criteria

If you’re considering filing a patent, you should be cognizant that you are required to pass five significant criteria in order for your patent to be accepted, and even then there is no guarantee. Your patent must be new, useful, non-obvious, statutory, and must not have prior use. 

  • Deep dive the interwebs to make sure your idea isn’t already on the market

After determining whether your patent passes all criteria stated above, you can move forward to see if someone else has already patented your idea. If they have, it’s pretty much game over. Skipping this step means potentially wasting a lot of time and money you could otherwise invest in other inventions, should your idea already be patented by another party. The best place to start your search is through the United States Patent and Trademark Office website–USPTO, for short. There are tons of other tools and search engines to facilitate a patent search, but be wary that this will require some time and cross-referencing. 

  • Research the patent application process and ask A LOT of questions

If you’ve come to the conclusion your idea is in fact completely 100% original and unpatented, you’ll need to sit down and unravel the answers to some important questions. 

For example, you’ll need to know whether you’ll need international protection, how long the patent might take, how much it’s going to cost, what rights patenting grants you, how to license a patent, and whether you should hire a patent attorney or agent. Google can be your best friend when trying to uncover everything you need to know BEFORE preparing your initial patent application.

  • Determine what type of patent you need

There are three unique kinds of patents: Utility Patents, Design Patents, and Plant Patents. You must figure out which category your patent falls under. 

  • Decide whether you want to go through the process on your own, or with the help of an attorneyfiling a patent

Should you decide to work with an attorney or agent to help execute your patent with precision, find one ASAP. You are likely new to this space, and those who specialize in intellectual property rights and laws have less of a probability of making a mistake during the process to patent. Your agent can help you further identify the type of patent your invention requires and can break down questions you may have in more detail.

This step requires you to factor in your budget. Filing a patent can run up a hefty bill, so you want to ensure you are executing the order of operations for patenting as streamlined as possible. Generally, most people get a patent attorney to do the leg work and avoid mistakes or loopholes within the process, but at a cost. For a reliable attorney, you might be shelling out anywhere from $8,000-$22,000. 

It is important to know that the subsequent steps will be facilitated by your attorney to ensure proper execution. If a patent attorney or agent is the one filing your patent application, the USPTO will only communicate with that attorney. Inventors won’t be able to receive updates, so correspondence with your attorney is crucial if you want to be in the know on application status and next steps.

  • Prepare and File a Provisional Patent Application

If you want an added layer of protection for your invention, it’s worth considering filing a provisional patent application. This application does not get reviewed by an examiner but serves as a legal document that establishes an early filing date. Ultimately it does not become an issued patent but serves as a placeholder; a provisional patent is cheaper than a non-provisional patent, but only helps protect a new invention from being copied within the first 12-month period before your formal–also known as non-provisional–patent application is filed.

  • Collect all documents for your formal application

Once you’ve established the preceding steps, you’re ready to prepare and file your non-provisional patent application. There are many components involved, so if you’re doing this on your own, be extra cautious and triple-check that you have done everything required of you before filing. Filing the application incorrectly means additional time that your invention is unprotected. Often, this is time you can’t afford to lose.

If you have an attorney, they will file for you. If you are doing this on your own, you can file your patent application via mail, fax, or online through the USPTO portal. Should you choose the latter, you’ll need to become a registered eFiler.

  • Finalize, review, and submit your formal application

Upon submitting your application, be prepared to hold your breath. Patent applications can remain pending for days, weeks, months, or years even. On average, it takes about 1-3 years for a patent application to process, hence why you see the words “patent pending” floating around. So if you’ve got an original idea in mind, time is money, and every moment is costly. 

Once you’ve applied, it becomes a waiting game. Be on the lookout via mail, as you’ll be notified by an official letter from the USPTO if your application is considered incomplete or missing documents. Pay close attention, because you’ll be given a specific time period to complete the filing, and potentially have to pay a surcharge as it causes an inconvenience to the examiners to have to reexamine the application. 

Patent Acceptance

Ok. so your formal application has been accepted as “complete.” From here forward, you’ll work directly with your examiner, as well as attorney or agent, to ensure that it is approved and ready to patent. Should your assigned examiner decide that your application meets all requirements, you will receive a “Notice of Allowance”. This document will list the issue fee and potentially a publication fee. In order to use your patent, you must pay these fees in advance. On the date your patent is issued, your patent grant will be mailed to you. You can also order certified documents with the USPTO ribbon and seal and signature to keep with you.

Now that your patent is in force, be prepared to pay maintenance fees to maintain your patent. 

Remember, patents prevent others from making or selling an invention. Timing is everything, and what’s there today may be gone tomorrow. If you have an idea, invention, or brand that you know is worth protecting, don’t skip a beat. Get to work as soon as you’ve completed this article.

 

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