Over the past 20 years, I’ve spoken to over 10,000 inventors.
Most of the time, they have burning questions – things they can’t wait to ask me!
Usually they ask things like:
“What’s the process for getting a patent?”
“How much is it going to cost?”
“Is it safe to share my idea with you?”
“When will it be safe to tell others about my idea?”
These may be the same questions you have. And believe me, having worked with inventors and entrepreneurs my entire career – I understand wanting these questions answered!
Questions like this show they are serious about doing something with their idea. And of course, when we talk, my team and I are happy to answer them.
But most of the time, while answering these basic questions, I never get to share with them the five most important secrets I’ve learned while representing thousands of clients and obtaining nearly 2000 patents for them.
So I’m glad you are reading this before you speak to me or my team. Before we even talk about getting started, these are some things that are more important for you to know!
Taking a few minutes to read the “5 secrets” that follow will set you ahead of the rest, and make the conversation we have even more meaningful.
Secret #1: There are time limits for filing a patent!
Obtaining a patent can be a cost a lot of money. When money is tight, many people (and even some companies) -chose not to file a patent application now, believing they can do so later.
This is not always the case.
If you ever want to get a patent, you must understand that strict and unforgiving time deadlines apply to establishing your rights! Before disclosing the invention publicly in any way, make sure you understand the implications.
It may mean losing the right to ever patent it!
Secret #2: The U.S. is now a first-to-file system
Until recently, the United States was the only country in the world where it mattered which of two inventors could prove they were the first to invent. Until this year, your notes, your sketches, your “inventor’s notebook” actually meant something!
Since March 2013, however, the United States has joined the rest of the world, and now has a first-to-file patent system. This means that if someone else files their patent application before you, they will be entitled to the patent, not you!
They would get the patent even if you could prove you actually invented it first.
Secret #3: Attempting a poor man’s patent will keep you poor
I don’t know where the myth of the “poor man’s patent” originated — it’s been around for ages — but it doesn’t work.
The myth goes like this: if you put your idea in an envelope and mail it to yourself, the postmark on your sealed envelope will provide adequate proof that you invented it.
It makes perfect sense, but it doesn’t actually work. In fact, it never worked.
The difference is that in the past I would have had to give you a long, complicated explanation why it doesn’t work. Something about how you won’t be rewarded for trying to get around the patent system … blah, blah, blah…
But now it’s quite simple to explain why it doesn’t work: we are in a first-to-file system, and so whatever proof you have that you invented it first doesn’t matter! All that does matter is if you filed your application first at the United States Patent Office!
Secret #4 What you file is as important as when you file
Believing that just the act of filing a patent application is what matters, people, too often, write up a quick description of their idea, file it as a provisional patent application, and think that they are protected.
While gaining priority over others by filing your patent application quickly is important, the priority you get is only as good as your application is well written.
Having seen thousands of applications, I can tell you that even the many that were written by attorneys won’t provide the needed protection if they were tested in court.
A patent application is a complex document that describes an invention in legal and technical terms. A typical patent application can be 20, 30, even 40 pages in length. How it is written can make all of the difference between protecting the invention, and being a waste of time to even bother.
You might have noticed advertisements from some inexpensive “services” that offer to file a patent applications for you. You must understand, however, that the benefit you receive from filing a poorly written application is about the same as if you don’t file any application at all!
Secret #5: Have them search it before they attempt to patent it
A lot of great ideas have been patented. And great minds do think alike. As a result, there are more than 8 million issued United States patents. Many of these are for great ideas that were never commercialized, were never put out on the market.
Here’s the secret: It costs a lot less to research an idea to see if has been patented, than it costs to attempt to patent it and be surprised when the Patent Office shows you a pile of patents by others for similar ideas.
Also, the right research will help focus the patent application drafting toward the part of the invention that is most worthy of protection.
Now that you know these secrets …
Your probably thinking these aren’t really “secrets”.
You are right. They are actually important principles of patent law that you need to know. But since most people don’t know them, and they get tripped up by not knowing them — they might as well be secrets!
Not knowing these key principles is the reason even intelligent, experienced business people lose out on the chance to ever patent their idea.
Now that you know these five principles, you are among the few that see why it is important to handle this properly from the very beginning. If you truly understand this and want to take the right steps to do this right, give us a call right away at 212-634-2830 or fill out the form above and on the right to schedule online right now. We are happy to help you get protected!