Albert L. Schmeiser 2013-01-16 04:10:30
Invention FAQs Inventors frequently asked questions are predictable and a brief review of those typical questions and answers can be very beneficial to anyone addressing their concerns about how to proceed to protect new ideas and developments. 1. I have an idea, is it patentable? To be patentable, an idea has to have two characteristics. First, it needs to be new, which means it has not been done before. Second, it needs to be nonobvious. Because most inventions are simply improvements on existing items or methods, the standard of being new and nonobvious can often be put in more practical terms of “does your idea have a difference that makes a difference.” Where you have made a change or developed a product or process that is different from what you are familiar with and has some beneficial effect there can generally be patentability. This is often confirmed by performing a patentability search in order to see what types of similar items have been patented in the past. Once the inventor and patent attorney feel confident that there is likely some patentable subject matter, an application can be filed. Because the standard for patentability is essentially a difference that makes a difference, the types of things that can be patented is unlimited. Patents that Schmeiser Olsen & Watts have issued on behalf of clients are as basic as a new type of child’s game or an improved hand exercise squeeze ball or as complex as silver nanoparticles as anti-microbial agents or methods for normalizing strain in semiconductor devices. 2. How long does it take to get a patent? A patent can be secured in as little as a year or in as long as it might take to convince the Patent Office that the idea is patentable which could be multiple years. However, the question asked is not really what clients generally want to know. More likely clients are curious about when they can start doing something with their inventions. They want to start making their inventions public and selling or licensing them. Dealing with these issues is much easier because most items are manufactured and sold, or even licensed, while they are “patent pending.” Once a patent application is filed, inventor’s rights in the invention have been claimed and they can proceed to manufacture, offer products for sale and license or even sell the patent application. This curiosity generally leads an inventor to the next two questions. 3. How long does it take for my invention to be patent pending? Generally, a patent application can be prepared and filed in 4 to 6 weeks. However, where there is an immediate need, an abbreviated application, called a provisional application, can be filed in a much shorter period of time, sometimes in a matter of days or within a week or two. The time often depends upon how much information the inventor has and his ability to provide that information to the patent attorney for preparation of the application. 4. How can I profit from my patent? Patents and patent applications can be licensed, sold to other individuals or companies or the inventor may decide to manufacture and market the invention under the patent. Unless an inventor has business connections to get their product to market, their likelihood of success increases dramatically when the inventor spearheads the manufacturing and marketing of the invention. The more they can do to advance the invention toward marketability, the greater their likelihood of success. 5. How can I raise the money to pursue my patent application and/or the development and marketing of the invention? Often, performing a patentability search is the first step in raising money for inventors. Investors are hesitant to put money into an item when the success of the item hinges on patentability and there is no clear understanding of whether the item is, in fact, patentable or not. A positive search result, when obtained, may form the basis for raising funds necessary to pursue the patent application and product development. Similarly, if an inventor can personally pursue the application, the existence of “patent pending” is a strong tool for proceeding with fund raising and product development. 6. Why should I get a patent? While one may think of obtaining a patent in order to stop infringers; doing so is very costly and time consuming and generally not the most financially beneficial use of a patent. The more common and often most valuable use of the patent or patent application is to promote sales of the product as the patent signifies that the product has a new feature that makes a difference and therefore should be desirable to potential purchasers. In addition, the existence of “patent pending” may keep potential infringers away as they do not want to spend a great deal of time and money preparing a product that may end up being the subject of an infringement claim. The patent may form a good basis for raising money and can greatly increase the value of a company and is often the lynch pin in determining whether a company can be sold and at what price. Each invention is by its very definition different as are the inventors that develop them. Schmeiser, Olsen & Watts provides free initial consultations to help inventors evaluate whether it may be advantageous for them to pursue patent protection for their ideas.
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