Patent applications can make or break the financial and legal security of your business, so it's important not to make mistakes.
As we mark 224 years since the Patent Act of 1790 was enacted -- setting forth the first patent statute in U.S. law -- try not to make these five common patent application mistakes that may send you back to the drawing board:
1. Waiting Too Long to File.
Patents work to keep others from using your inventions, designs, techniques, etc., in their own products or designs. However, you can forfeit your right to a patent by waiting too long to file a patent application.
A provisional patent application (PPA) must be filed 12 months after the product is sold or used publicly. After that, the patent holder has 12 more months to file or convert the PPA to a non-provisional application. If you wait past either of these dates, your patent rights to your invention may be forfeited.
2. Missing Out on a Patent Opportunity.
Your company may have improved upon a current patent or combined existing technologies to make something truly special, and perhaps you didn't think it could be patented. You may want to think again. Combination patents may be hard to obtain but they aren't impossible, especially for something truly novel.
3. Failing to Conduct a Proper Patent Search.
Both Google and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have search tools to quickly search patents from the last four decades until now. This may inform you that a patent already exists for your potential application and can save you some time and money.
Don't be fooled though. Not finding "anything" without the confirmation of an experienced patent attorney is not a green light to go ahead. Competing patents can often be hard to find.
4. Filing Sloppy Patent Application.
Whether it is for your PPA or non-provisional patent, there are rules to be followed in submitting your patent application. Some of the easiest ones to flub up are the USPTO rules for patent drawings. It might be easier to hire a professional drafter to do this part for you.
5. Failure to Use Non-Disclosure Agreements.
Your company may be interested in shopping your invention around to venture capitalists or larger companies prior to filing for a patent. A good non-disclosure agreement can protect your company's secrets until patent protections kick in.
Try to avoid these mistakes so you can enjoy the fruits of your inventions.
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