July 13, 2015
You’ve got this great idea. You planned it, designed it, and built it. Now what do you do? Some people spend years developing whatever it is they eventually create, and are never able to get their product safely and legally tied to their name. There’s also fear of losing your idea to someone else. If they have more financial ability than you, and you don’t have a patent, someone could slip your million dollar idea right out from underneath you. Here are a few helpful hints to assist you on your journey to notoriety.
Research your invention
The main thing you need to do before trying to patent your idea is to make sure that no one has already come up with it. There is a website available to help you find out. The US Patent and Trademark Office keeps records of everything ever patented. If you find anything like what you have, then you need to go back to the drawing board. However, if you have the money available, you can hire a patent lawyer to research the specifications and see if your product is just different enough to go ahead and patent it anyway.
Don’t do it yourself
Even though it’s entirely possible to do something yourself, doesn’t mean that you should. This is one of those instances. There are so many different things that can go wrong in acquiring a legal and legit patent that it’s very easy to miss something and void the whole process. In terms of licensing and confidentiality, you should always seek out the expertise of and intellectual property professional. If not, you may end up signing something that will negatively affect your position as owner of the design. It’s probably best to leave it to the professionals on this one.
Keep careful records and specs
When you’re building or designing something no one has ever seen before, you need to keep close records of everything you do. You should write down every detail of the development process for future referral. You should also record how the idea came about, and build a functional prototype if you can. Document everything, and sign and date it as well! This way, when you apply for your patent, there is no doubt as to who is responsible for the creation.
It’s important to make sure you have the finances lined up to patent your invention. It will cost to build a prototype. If you apply without a lawyer for a patent, it will cost you at least a hundred and fifty bucks. If you choose to acquire a lawyer, the process could cost thousands. Make sure you know what you are getting yourself into, and have a backup fund for a rainy day.