How to Achieve Cost Savings in Patenting Your Inventions
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Global Intellectual Property Center has championed intellectual property as a "vital engine of global development, growth, and human progress."
One particularly valuable type of intellectual property is a patent. A patent can be obtained for any new and non-obvious process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter.
A patent can be used, for a limited period of time (no more than twenty years), to prevent competitors from using your invention without your permission.
Obtaining a patent can be quite costly, typically involving attorney's fees and government fees in excess of $10,000. You can save on attorney's fees, however, in two ways.
First, conduct a brief search for your invention in the prior art (ie patents, patent applications, articles, product literature or products which predate your invention). The search can be done on the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) located at http://patft.uspto.gov/. You may wish to search other sources as well. If your invention has been disclosed by someone else more than a year ago, or if you have publically disclosed or offered to sell your invention or products made from your invention for more than one year, the invention cannot be patented. Because there are subtleties as to what constitutes a disclosure or being on-sale, discuss this with your attorney before deciding whether to proceed;
Second, provide your patent lawyer with the following information:
a good description of your invention including structural details and drawings, where applicable – explain how your invention works;
a list of all public disclosures and sales of your invention (or products made using your invention);
the prior art most similar to your invention;
a summary of how your invention differs from and overcomes any problems with the prior art;
a description of any additional advantages and disadvantages of your invention.
a listing of those features (e.g. structural elements, process steps, mode of operation or results) believed to be new;
a description of any work-arounds to your invention (put yourself in your competitor's shoes).
With more complete information, your patent lawyer will be able to prepare your patent application more quickly, resulting in a cost savings to you.
Jonathan Grad is an intellectual property lawyer and partner at the Eden Prairie law firm of Vidas, Arrett & Steinkraus, PA. www.vaslaw.com