Intellectual property can be a tricky subject for many emerging brands, start up’s and SMB’s. Knowing the right questions to ask, seeking the proper assistance and leveraging time and money is key to successfully managing your Intellectual Property assets, commonly known as IP. Having successfully been through the patent process, I learned how to work with the right people and leverage the strategic direction of my company to execute flawlessly and quickly.
What is a Patent?
Patents are simply a grant of property right to you [the inventor] from the USPTO [United States Patent & Trademark Office] for 20 years from the filing date. There are 3 types of patents – 2 of which are useful for most businesses.[check_list]
Myths & Truths
A common myth is that a Patent will prevent others from copying your idea, method or design. That is simply not the case. The old sports adage applies, “The best defense is a good offense.” Patents are a pre-emptive and effective measure. Not many companies will introduce a product to market in which a competitor clearly states ‘patent pending’ on their external communications. As a patent holder you have exclusive rights to your ideas – and most people fail to realize that ideas are the true wealth of society.
Can I Patent My Idea?
In order for an idea to be considered patentable – it must pass a variety of tests. It must be novel, non-obvious and cannot be pursued if it is known, used, or printed in another country. Also, if per say, you share your idea publicly, or place it for sale you must apply for the patent within 1 year or patent rights are lost. This is where strong legal counsel is vital. Your IP attorney should be well versed in your industry and patent law to suggest all possible scenarios when crafting the application.
Keeping IP Costs Low in the Short-term
For companies seeking to keep initial costs low – a Provisional Application is the way to go. The only difference is that a provisional patent is less costly, enables you to secure an earlier filing date, and gives you the right to market your product with ‘patent pending’ status. If you are in a hurry to get your idea to market at a lower investment and gain a lead on competition – Provisional patents are a great option. The only catch is that you must file the full patent within 12 months to secure the initial filing date or it is considered abandoned. If you have an idea that is possibly patent worthy engage in the proper research and seek legal counsel. The USPTO [United States Patent & Trademark Office] is a fantastic resource to learn more about patents, conduct keyword searches, and much more.
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