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Patent Law What Inventors and Startup business Owners Need to Know

On Behalf of | Dec 28, 2023 | Patent Law

We all have had ideas for products we would love to invent.

Perhaps it is a product that would ease a burden in our daily lives.

You may have an idea for a product that would answer an unmet need in the marketplace.

Having a great idea is the first step in bringing your invention to life.

However, the actual process of bringing an invention to the market can be a challenge for new and experienced entrepreneurs.

Sometimes entrepreneurs do not realize the importance of securing a patent for their invention early on in the process.

After all, we often get caught up in the details of our daily lives and put off tasks about which we may be unsure.

Learning the basics about design patent law and the process of securing a patent will help you make a plan and get started.

Patent Law Rewards the First Person to File 

The United States is now a country with a first to file rule.

The United States used to be a country that followed the first to invent rule.

This meant that an inventor’s date of invention was the date of conception of the intellectual property.

Thus, if an inventor was the first person to use the invention in practice, the law would consider him or her the first inventor, and he or she would be entitled to the patent.

The court would award a patent to the first person to use the invention in practice, not necessarily the first person to file for patent protection.

In 2013, the United States abandoned the first to invent rule in favor of the first to file a patent rule.

Under the first to file system, the court grants a patent to the person who files a patent application first.

Why is this change significant?

Now, it is imperative that you are the first to submit a patent application.

It is wise for startup business owners and inventors to apply for a patent before publicly demonstrating the invention or offering it for sale.

It is often best to keep the invention as private as possible until you are able to file your patent.

Skilled Chicago patent attorneys will help you file a provisional patent that is properly constructed. Whatever you do, do not put off filing for a patent. The risk is too significant.

Provisional Patents can be a Useful Tool for Inventors and Startups

Anyone can file a provisional patent application, which allows for filing without a formal declaration, oath, and formal patent claim.

If you do not want to lose the chance to acquire a patent due to not filing first, a provisional patent will allow you more time to work on your invention.

Provisional patent applications are filed at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

In your application, you will need to describe the invention as completely as possible.

However, you will not need to meet all of the formal requirements of a non-provisional patent application.

The most important benefit of filing a provisional patent application is that you will have a priority patent filing date, but the patent term does not start with the filing.

As discussed earlier, the United States is now a first to file country.

Filing a provisional patent will secure your filing date before someone else.

Provisional patent applications also cost less than non-provisional patent applications.

If your provisional patent is granted, you can use the term “Patent Pending” to describe your invention.

Provisional patent applications last one year from the date of filing.

Sometimes the court will extend the amount of time the provisional patent lasts under exceptional circumstances.

It is crucial that you file a non-provisional patent before the 12-month deadline.

Inventors and Startups Need to be as Specific as Possible When Filing a Patent

Some inventors want to make their patents as broad as possible to give themselves the most protection.

They are afraid that if they narrow down the description of the invention, they will lose opportunities to claim variations of their product.

On the contrary, your patent application must be specific to be effective.

An overly broad claim or disclosure in a patent is easier for opponents to challenge.

Federal patent law requires that patent applicants define and particularly identify their invention with specificity.

A judge could rule that an overly broad patent application does not adequately describe how to make and use your invention.

If you are genuinely concerned about publishing the secrets surrounding your invention in a patent application, you may need to file a trade secret.

An intellectual property trade secret attorney will help you determine if you have a trade secret and the best ways to go about protecting that trade secret.

Attorneys can also help ease your fears about using specifics in your patent application if you are concerned about secrecy.

Be Sure to Include as Many Patent Drawings as Possible

Patent applicants must provide at least one patent drawing or illustration when it is possible to draw the invention.

Most inventions can be illustrated, so you will likely need to include at least one drawing.

High-quality patent drawings add a level of detail and sophistication to your application.

It is also wise to include a paragraph of text with every illustration.

The combination of skilled drawings and explanatory text go a long way to represent your invention accurately.

Spare Yourself a Headache and Make Sure You File Your Patent Correctly the First Time 

Filing a patent application is nothing to take too lightly.

The patent prosecution process is often lengthy and costly.

Taking the time to seek an evaluation of your invention and place in the patent process will benefit you immensely.

You have worked hard on developing your invention.

Make sure you protect that invention with a patent.

The skilled Chicago area patent opinion attorneys atAU LLC will evaluate your invention and guide you through the patent application process.

Contact AU LLC today to set up an initial consultation.