I am a registered patent attorney and I would say "No." I've worked with many enterpreneurs over the last 20-years and the successful ones know where each idea will fit in his or her business life. Your business plan and life plan is the place to start. If you believe your idea is a good fit, then you are ready to start the work of learning the patent environment. Start with the free sources, namely, the Patent Office website at www.uspto.gov. Do some patent searching. I like to search for key words in the abstracts. Once you find a patent in your area, then call the examiner listed on the face of the patent and ask him or her where you should continue your searching. Once you have an idea of the patent environment then ask yourself whether your invention is important enough to rate investing the time and money to pursue a patent. Think of your patent as defining the metes and bounds of a piece of real property. Ask yourself if others can avoid your property to reach some destination. Ask yourself the "rent" a person would pay to cross your property. Is your property like a farm in Iowa where I can move 100 yards and cross on someone else's property? Is your property like a pass in the Rockies and either I pay to travel through that pass or a go 500 miles to the next pass? If you think you have a winner, then write a patent disclosure and file it as a provisional patent. The cost of filing a provisional is small and you can roll up many provisionals in a non-provisional. Then start looking for a patent lawyer who is a good fit with your temperment. When you find the person you want to use, then have him or her review your provisional and write a richer provisional and file it. Then get to work on your non-provisional. A good patent application typically costs $8K on up. Frequently, a good patent application costs more than $16k. That is the U.S. only. There is a big world out there and if you want foreign patents then you need to start talking about the Patent Cooperation Treaty and national applications. The fees are more than worth it if your idea is novel enough and is better, cheaper or faster than current alternatives. Good fortune! Yours, Jim Faier, M.P.P, M.B.A., J.D., U.S. Reg'd Patent Attorney 56731. Faier & Faier P.C. Chicago, Illinois
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is usually a good idea to talk to an attorney at this time. Most attorneys will not charge you for the initial meeting, but you may want to make sure in advance. The attorney will give you some guidance on the best way forward. I typically advise to approach potentially interested parties and start talking with them after a confidentiality agreement has been signed. If you feel that there is considerable interest in the idea you can move forward with the patent application. This isn’t a fail safe way to go. It is a lot safer to file the patent at this stage, but patents are expensive . So most entrepreneurs try to get a feel of the water before filing the application.
The "good cop" in me says "sure, spend a bundle up front to see how committed you are to translating the idea into profit. The "bad cop" says that only 3-4% of independent inventors ever recover the $10,000 or so it costs them to obtain a patent, so sell like crazy and forget about a patent as a mere license to sue or get sued. The real answer is quite complicated and somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Good luck.
It may well be advisable to consult with an intellectual property attorney who is also a patent attorney. Some ideas and their associated inventions will not merit patent protection if they do not meet the threshold requirement for patent protection under the law: subject matter eligibility and utility. By way of example, business method patents are expected to become increasingly difficult to obtain as the result of several court decisions over the past few years starting with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bilski v. Kampos.
An individual or company that is willing to spend funds on patent protection should have a good understanding of the patent risks involved so as to be in a good later position to try and overcome anticipated rejections by the application’s USPTO examiner. If the “invention” idea is in its early stages of development, a patent attorney’s advice as to any red flags may also prove to be invaluable by providing clarity as to the requirements for obtaining a patent based on the subject matter eligibility requirements as well as the requirements for novelty and non-obviousness.
Moreover, some ideas, even if they do not meet the subject matter and utility requirements for patent protection, may nevertheless quality for other types of IP protection such as copyright protection (when, for example, an idea for a book is converted into the actual book), design patent protection, or even trade secret protection. It is emphasized that trade secret protection and patent protection are not necessarily mutually exclusive types of intellectual property protection. Again, a consultation with an IP attorney should provide clarity as to IP-protection options.
This answer does not focus on trademark protection, generally categorized as a type of intellectual property. Trademark law’s overall purpose involves the protection of both the registered trademark owner and the purchaser of the good or service associated with the registered trademark and is associated with the sale of goods and services in interstate commerce. Thus a patented product that is sold as a good in interstate commerce will most likely be under sold under the name of a registered trademark.
Since seeking patent protection in your case may be appropriate, I would like to include in this answer some additional information as it applies specifically to patent law. First, on March 16, 2013, the United States became a first-inventor-to-file country. As such, provisional patent applications may well be filed in much larger numbers even by established companies for the purpose of obtaining the all important filing date in the event a later utility patent application is filed claiming the priority date of the provisional patent application. To get the benefit of provisional patent application’s priority date, however, the provisional patent application must have adequately disclosed the invention that is described in the later utility application. Otherwise, the utility application’s actual date of filing, and not the provisional application’s filing date, may control, thereby defeating the purpose behind filing the provisional patent application in the first place. Again, it may be advisable to retain a patent attorney to either draft a proper provisional application and/or at the very least review the draft prepared by the applicant himself or herself.
Second, it must be emphasized that patentability ultimately goes to the question of novelty and non-obviousness as determined by the prior art. Do not make the mistake that the absence of a similar product to the proposed invention means that the procurement patent on the proposed invention is going to be a slam dunk. For a wide variety of reasons, many patented inventions just do not find a market. Prior art for the purposes of patent application examination includes, but is not limited, to U.S. patent publications (both issued patents and patent application publications) and even scholarly articles on related inventions/concepts. The USPTO’s examiner will conduct his/her own prior art search and use the information to determine if the proposed invention is novel and non-obvious over the prior art.
It is therefore recommended that a prior art search be conducted and the results evaluated before the applicant spends a lot of funds on filing a patent application and developing a product only to have the patent application rejected. Such information will allow the patent application drafter to distinguish the prior art from the present invention in the application and to be ready to respond to any reasonably anticipated rejections. In addition, such information may be used by the inventor to even perhaps invent around the existing prior art so as to increase the chances of obtaining patent protection.
Third, even with the new law, documentation of the concept and invention-related activities is still exceedingly important. Remember that any patent is to issue to the actual inventor(s). The new laws do not mean that the patent is to issue to the first- person-to-file but to the first-inventor-to-file. New procedures are in place to address questions as to inventorship that may arise under the new law. The best way to help establish actual inventorship is still through signed and witnessed written documentation of the ideas, concepts, steps take to reduce to practice, etc.
In closing, please keep in mind that by understanding the risks associated with patent procurement upfront, the inventor and/or the inventor’s assignee can develop a proactive strategy rather than a reactive strategy for addressing reasonably foreseeable issues during the patent prosecution process. Such an approach may also help attract investor interest. Ideally, the inventor and patent attorney relationship is one that is based on a teamwork approach starting with the drafting of any patent application.
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.
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
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.
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.
No, first make sure you have an "invention" not simply an "idea." Ideas are not patentable, inventions that embody ideas can be patentable.
Second, give some general thoughts on what you want to do with your invention: make it yourself, license to others.
Third, before you incur the expense of a patent agent or patent attorney, do some research yourself to determine if the invention is new. Only new inventions are patentable. (The invention must be "obvious" also, but that's for a later discussion.) Research platforms: Google, Google Patent, www.uspto.gov, among others.
Fourth, have a professional search done to determined what is known in the field. The agent or attorney can help you with this.
Now, if you're still interested and the market is viable, get a quote for drafting an application from an agent or attorney.
Most important, do not disclose the inveinton to anyone (without a NDA). Good luck.
No, ideas alone aren't patentable (in Europe at least). A technical solution to a problem is potentially patentable. Get a better idea as to what the technical nature of your solution might be, then go to see a patent attorney who will advise you as to whether it is patentable and then start to look at some prior art, etc. Just make sure you don't make any public disclosures for the time being and get any consultants or contractors you hire signed up to appropriate NDAs.
You are sooooo far away from needing a lawyer. You may need Confidentiality Agreements, however, silencing anyone with whom you speak from divulging your intellectual property trade secrets to others, Focus on the creative invention, not the incorporation or name of your creative spark. Focus on the spark and turning it into something at which time once it becomes "real," you then seek a patent.
Incorporation bogs us down with so much bureaucracy. I'd side-step it for now until it's shaping into a reality.
IMHO all of these incorporate commercials are whetting the appetites only of the advertiser. It's so easy to get bogged down with the law. Be careful with whom you share the information, and ensure that you have an NDA clause for every individual with whom you speak.
You can pass up the patent while you are looking at how to build your invention. Furthermore,
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.
Depends on how far along you are with the idea. Do you have a working prototype? Do you have specific blueprint plans for making/building the product?
If it is only in your head then I believe it is too early in the process. If the answer to the questions above is yes, then it would be wise to patent before you show it to too many people.
If it is an intellectual or art/design then a copyright would be the direction to go.
No. First figure out if your idea is commercially viable. This means knowing startup and ongoing costs, sales, profitability, etc.
In my experience as a patent attorney, I would definitely recommend that you speak with someone, such as myself, for a free initial consultation. By doing so, you can come up with a game plan as to how to approach protecting your idea, e.g.: starting with a patent search, filing a provisional patent application, etc. Even if the idea is not patentable, an attorney will assist you as to your other options. Do not fall into the trap of attempting to do it yourself. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to set up a free initial consultation.