I would not start looking for an attorney right away. Make sure you write out your idea and include a drawing if that would be helpful to the understanding of it. If you cannot draw it, ask someone that you trust. Second, make sure that you look for similar ideas online, just get busy with your research as your idea needs to be original. If you share your idea with any one ask them to sign a Non Disclosure Agreement. Use any suggestions that you agree with. Once you are sure, from your research that idea does not exist, call up an attorney for a free consultation, if possible and ask as many questions, without giving the idea away, about the process and costs.
Absolutely not! If your idea is a tangeble product- not a service or process- then check the internet and see what else is out there. If you can't find a similar product or idea then check the Patent offices records- espacenet.com Use a few words to describe it so you stand a chance finding something similar. Don't be blinkered!! work hard at checking, if you can't find anything like it then you start the very difficult and expensive process of developing the idea. Where are you based? I lead a club for inventors here in Scotland. Find your nearest club and go get advice.
As others have said, an idea without execution, a market position, and money behind it is worthless. I would do my best to build out the idea and see whether people ill pick up on it before trying to patent it. I'm sure there are a lot of patents around for things which were far too expensive to build - things which were great ideas, but not commercially viable. If your idea is like this, then there is no point in patent protection, because no one will want to copy it anyway.
Before talking to a patent lawyer, do your research, find out how novel your idea is and how viable it would be to implement, and what the expected returns would be. Then calculate whether it is worth talking to a lawyer.
I am working with a person who has one of those ideas, and my research showed that you can get a patent pending status, if you are the first one to register, for around $175. That gives the person filing one year to file a complete patent.
This rule was recently changed. Formerly, the person who invented the idea was the only one who could file patent. Now, the first one to register owns the idea, so a word to the wise would be not to tell anyone you do not trust explicitly.
The idea for the patent pending does not have to be complete, but the patent a year later must be detailed. In this case, the patent must be able to close any loopholes that a larger, better-staffed organization might be able to find to offer a similar idea.
A great deal of the work can be done without a lawyer. To the Patent Office's credit, the instructions for filing are clearly spelled out and available online for any inventor. The lawyer would help to get the details for the patent in good order. A number of patent lawyers offer a sliding scale of services.
Proof of concept is important for marketing the idea. The patent office is looking for an explanation that a person with "reasonable knowledge" of the technology can understand.
Additionally, if you are not sure whether your idea is novel and worth the effort to develop, current patent applications can be found through the Patent Office. In fact, they are looking for volunteers to review patents eliminating ideas that may be already used. The rules for elimination are relatively complex, but the would-be inventor can find the patents of others with similar ideas.
I would strongly advise taking some time to read the .GOV website on Patents
Good luck with your invention.
Be careful about disclosing too much of your invention to people uninvolved with the invention as you may lose some or all of your potential patent rights. Most patent attorneys will provide you a brief free telephone consultation to let you know the best next steps for protecting your idea or invention. Provisional patent applications are a great way to protect your idea while you are still working on it.
Patent Lawyers can give you a strong sense of what you should and shouldn't be disclosing to the public, and how you should be disclosing your idea. It's also good to consider provisional patent application (very cheap to do) before making any big moves. There are platforms out there that help you do that - www.ipsmartup.com is a sponsor of mosaicHUB and gives you free access to patent attorneys for free consultations, among other benefits.
Hi Chris: My initial thought would be to hold off as long as you can. Engaging a patent lawyer either on a retainer or hourly basis will blow through your budget and quickly at that. If you have any friends or anyone in your network that would be willing to cut you a break on the consult, do that. I spent 7 1/2 years in litigation support and much of my work centered around firms with an IP specialty as well as in patent infringement. If you find yourself in litigation costs can quickly ramp up to the millions of dollars in document productions, court reporting, e-discovery, etc. I would suggest getting to work on bringing the idea to life, keep your own counsel about what your up to and proceed accordingly under the radar of would be competitors. If you're successful the need to lawyer up with a patent attorney will arise soon enough. This is just my own humble opinion. Hope it's helpful. - Mike
I'm sorry to say that IMHO patents are worthless to companies without war-chests of at least £10m or $10m.
Try this: approach a patent lawyer saying that you already own said patent and you believe the likes of Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Samsung (take your pick) may have infringed it. Say you want to sue for damages, etc. then ask the killer question...
How much is it going to cost me to defend the patent I own?
Don't think it's a straight stand-up fight with the big boys. They will most likely bleed you dry with delaying tactics and worse.
If you're defending your idea against just the ordinary folk, ask yourself - why aren't the big boys interested in my idea?
The patents system is widely acknowledged as broken. So I'd be looking to include an element that is unrevealed (magic sauce) to keep competitors from stealing your market lead.
Before discussing with a patent lawyer, or anyone else, please try to focus on execution part, i.e. how can the idea be embodied as a commercially viable business. Once you reach that stage, that is the time to decide whether it is worthy of patent protection and then you need a patent lawyer. Ideas are always in plenty, execution is something that matters. Hope this helps.
Talked to some one you trust, about it, several times, to see if it works.
Lawyers needs a very specific description and previous art analysis to start talking for a Patent.
Also is important to find an actual business in the field interested to talk.