10 Things To Consider Before Applying For A Patent 

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Patents are powerful assets that bestow the holder with exclusive rights over their invention and prevent others from using it without their permission. It offers a competitive advantage to the owner as well as monetary benefits that arise from manufacturing, selling, or licensing the invention. While a robust IP portfolio is both a matter of pride and repute for a business, building it is a slow and painstaking process. There are several considerations that must be looked into even before you begin the complex patent filing process. Enlisted below are a few questions that will influence your decision of applying for a patent.

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Are you exhibiting your invention at an event or making it publicly known?

If you are making your invention public in any form, it is best to do so only after applying for a patent. This is because ‘novelty’ is an eligibility criterion for a patent which causes publicly disclosed inventions to be disqualified.

Is your invention original and non-obvious?

To answer this question, it is important to look beyond your invention and survey the market for prior art. Even if your invention is not physically available as a product, even a mention of similar tech anywhere is grounds for rejection. Since a prior-art search is crucial in determining your chances of getting a patent, it is best to hire professional help in conducting it.

Should you get a design or utility patent?

If you are seeking to protect how an item works or is used then a utility patent is the best form of protection. When the appearance rather than the functionality of the product is to be safeguarded then design patents are most suitable. If you are confused about your decision then factor in the time, complexity, and expenses involved in each. Design patents have a simpler filing process, are quicker to obtain, and attract lower fees as compared to utility patents. Additionally, design patents have a much lower rejection rate vis-à-vis utility patents.

Have you studied the costs?

Patent filing does not come cheap! Aside from the huge R&D investment that has been spent on inventing the tech, you will be faced with a barrage of expenses before, during, and after filing. The pre-filing expenses will include patent attorney fees and payments for drafting the application which includes hiring an expert for the drawings.
During the filing, you have to pay the fees charged by the patent office plus any additional fees that you may incur in case of re-examinations. Once the filing is complete and you have been granted a patent, be prepared for the patent maintenance fees that must be paid periodically. If you are keen to apply for an international patent, then all the above fees need to be paid again per the rules of the new jurisdiction.

Did you consider the other forms of Intellectual Property Rights?

IP has become so synonymous with patents that we sometimes overlook the other options of IPR. Copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets are equally capable of offering solid legal protection as patents. Do consult with your attorney to figure out if your invention can benefit from a form of IPR other than patents.

Have you studied the patent application process?

 

The patent application process is time-consuming and requires an assortment of documents and data. Discuss each stage of the process with your attorney before the filing so that you are spared any surprises later. Consult them in detail about all the information that will need to be furnished with the application so that you are ready with the necessary details.

Would a provisional patent benefit you?

A provisional patent application is fairly simple to file and does not require you to submit claims, drawings, declarations, and other documents associated with regular patents. It is valid for a year and buys you time to fine-tune your invention further. It also grants a pending patent status to your invention. However, consider a provisional patent only if you are looking to attract investors with the ‘patent-pending’ sign or need more time to work on the tech. This route must be avoided by those who wish to expedite the patent-securing process.

Have you signed NDAs with employees/investors?

An NDA or Non-Disclosure Agreement is a vital yet overlooked component. Most start-ups and small businesses commit the grave mistake of not getting an NDA signed by people/organisations that are made aware of the invention. This can severely undermine your chances of getting a patent if the information is disclosed by someone prior to filing.

Does a patent justify the time and cost invested in securing it?

Patents take anywhere between 2 to 4 years to come through (if they do) and involve significant costs. Assess the profitability of your invention against these conditions before you jump into the application process. Ensure that the patent, if granted, will be a good fit for your business strategy, will help sell your products, increase the company’s evaluation, and prove overall profitable and valuable to the business.

Are you selecting the best firm for the filing process?

Selecting the right firm to assist you in this journey is an important choice you need to make. Your precious invention must be handled by someone who understands it as well as is aligned with your goals and objectives. The efficiency, responsiveness, and experience of the firm are important contemplations. Ensure that the firm is well versed with all forms of IP and can guide you towards the best-case scenario for your invention.

Conclusion

The above questions help you track your readiness, assess the strength of the invention, as well as equip you with a deeper understanding of the patent application procedure. An experienced attorney will be able to guide you better through the process and offer valuable inputs to expedite your application.

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