Patent law firms typically start the patenting process with a patent search. The patent search helps provide guidance about whether an idea is patentable. Then, a provisional patent application or a non-provisional parent application is filed. A provisional patent provides one year of patent-pending status and allows for the inventor to file a nonprovisional patent within that time period.
A patent lawyer may then file a non-provisional patent application that claims priority to all pending provisional application or a non provisional parent application. Our attorneys will help draft patent claims that properly assert intellectual property rights regarding the desired invention. The patent application process often takes 3-4 years when an inventor starts with a provisional.
Why Apply For a Patent?
A patent gives a monopoly on an idea for 20 years. It is a piece of intellectual property that can be sold, and it is what investors want to see as it gives legitimacy to the property as well as the company that owns it. A patent can differentiate a company from its competitors.
How the Patent Process Works
Without an invention, there is no patent. First and foremost, you need to be working on your invention to a point where you can clearly define and explain what it is. During this process, it is important to keep records of every step. Once you have defined your invention, you potentially have a concept you can patent.
Make a Prototype
Put your invention into action and begin refining its usefulness. A prototype can help clearly define an idea, identify problems, and present the idea to potential buyers and licensors. Whether it is a tangible or intangible invention (IP), it still needs to be developed to the point it can be tested. A fully devolved prototype is not needed to apply for a patent but it may be helpful in some scenarios.
Prepare a Business Plan
A business plan can make or break your goals and is a strategic tool for any entrepreneur. A well thought-out and detailed business plan helps keep the focus on the specific steps needed for an entrepreneur to make their idea a reality. It also helps to layout all short and long-term goals for your business.
Conduct a Novelty Search
A novelty search, or a patentability search, is used to define if an idea or invention is new and original. This is typically done before the inventor/attorney files a patent application. A patent will only be granted to inventions that are considered useful, new, and non-obvious. Fargo Patent & Business Law can assist you in conducting patent research. Patent research will help you determine whether pursuing a patent is feasible.
Prepare File and Patent Application
A patent application needs all the necessary items ready and in order. Our lawyers will guide you through each step of the patent application process. It is a good practice to include the following in a patent application:
- Strategically drafted background information that describes what needs your invention will fulfill. What solution are you providing?
- Summary of your invention.
- Detailed and thoroughly thought-out description of your invention.
- Claims that distinctly identify exactly what aspects of your invention you want protected.
Market Your Idea
Why should your idea be considered an invention? Now is the time to market why your idea should be approved for a patent. Ask yourself:
- How is this providing value?
- How is this invention different from competing products?
- Why is this something people would invest their time and money in?
Bottom line - your idea should be original and needs to provide consumers with a solution and value.
Examination of Patent Application
After your patent is submitted, the Patent Office may have questions, raise objections and/or rejections regarding your application. Fargo Patent & Business Law is here to help assist you in responding to the Patent Office. Whether you receive a non-final rejection or a final rejection, we will help with the next step. Depending on the response you receive, different strategies and steps may be required if you wish to continue to proceed with the patent application process.
Patent Issuance Continuation
Continuation applications allow you to pursue additional claims based on the original concept you disclosed in prior patent applications. These continuations claim priority to the pending “parent” application date and are useful to help build your business objectives.
After a patent is granted, there are ongoing fees that apply for the patent to be continually recognized. Timely payment of maintenance fees will keep your patent enforced beyond the date it was issued.
Build Out Your IP Portfolio
A strong foundation is what sets IP Portfolios apart from one another. Know what values your invention brings to the table and focus on the solution it provides. Remember, when pursuing a patent, you should not only consider the concept you are trying to protect, but also how it will be marketed and how it will generate revenue. Here are some tips when it comes to building out your IP Portfolio.
- Ask yourself:
- How are we different from our competitors?
- What makes our brand unique?
- Why would investors care?
- Look at both the attractive and defensive sides of IP.
- Look at what markets are most likely to deliver revenue growth. Patents should be drafted with the target market in mind.
- Always be forward-thinking when it comes to your competitors. Watch what they are doing and be one step ahead.
- Never stop developing your idea. An effective IP Portfolio and strategy will always be ongoing.