Posts in Invention Basics

Keeping a Good Invention Notebook

Even when we switch to first to file inventors will still in some cases need to be able to detail when they conceived of various aspects of their invention if they are going to attempt to rely upon the grace period. Affidavit practice to establish what was invented, when it was invented and that someone else derived their invention or disclosure from you will still be a part of patent practice even after March 16, 2013. Therefore, it is critical now to have an invention record and will similarly be extremely important even after the switch to first to file takes place.

Inventor Pitfalls: Causing Irretrievable Patent Damage

All too often inventors feel that the assistance of a patent attorney is really not necessary. That is an opinion shared by many unfortunately. It is not unfortunate for the patent attorney really, but rather it is unfortunate for those who hold the belief because invariably those who represent themselves obtain rights that are so narrow that they are practically useless. Recently I have had the occasion to be contacted by several independent inventors who did file their own nonprovisional patent applications and are now facing a First Office Action that rejects all the claims. A First Office Action that rejects all claims is not uncommon, but these applications have little or no useful discussion of the invention so there will be little or nothing anyone can do to help them ever achieve a patent. A bad patent application results in either an extremely narrow patent or no patent at all. All that time, money and energy wasted. These inventors, who are unfortunately the norm for those who represent themselves, may well have had an invention that could be protected but through a faulty application will now likely never receive a patent on their invention.

Patentability Overview: When can an Invention be Patented?

Unfortunately, the patentability requirements are frequently misunderstood, including by the United States Supreme Court. For many who are not well versed in patent law one of the reasons it can be confusing when considering patentability is due to the fact that the first of the patentability requirements asks whether the invention exhibits patentable subject matter. This is sometimes phrased in terms of patent eligibility, which leads the many anti-patent zealots and other patent neophytes to erroneously conclude that if an invention is patent eligible then a patent issues. Nothing could be further from the truth, but those who hate the patent system aren’t exactly concerned with facts or reality. So what is required for an invention to be patented?

Invention Services: Finding Valuable Services & Avoiding Scams

But surely inventors, who are very smart people, could resist the advances of the unscrupulous, right? While that is what you might expect, my experience tells me otherwise.  Aside from the conditions being right (i.e., being told the invention is brilliant, etc.), most inventors tell me that even if they were told that there would be only 1 success out of 3,000 inventions they would be utterly convinced that their invention would be that success.  I have asked this question many times at presentations, the answer is always the same, and while on one had you have to love the optimism and tenacity, this is the final ingredient that leads so many to the doorstep of the unscrupulous.  Even with perfect knowledge and information many will still make what many would characterize as a bad move.

When Should a Do It Yourself Inventor Seek Patent Assistance?

It is certainly true that once you file a nonprovisional patent application your ability to make additions to the application has largely ceased. Even if you are filing a provisional patent application, while you could always file another provisional patent application to correct mistakes, the first filing is only as good as what is disclosed. Taking the first filed patent application seriously and making sure it has all the necessary disclosure is absolutely critical. Therefore, having a professional review your patent application before you file is definitely wise. The question, however, is when do you seek the assistance? Frequently many inventors wait too long before they seek help, which means much of what they have done is unusable and various levels of difficult (or impossible) to work with.

One Simple Idea: Turn Your Dreams into a Licensing Goldmine

But don’t quit your day job as you pursue a career in inventing! When I saw that in Key’s book (it appears early on) I knew the book was a winner. I can’t think of any better advice to provide, and it came with the familiar stories to make the lesson real. In our conversation Key said: “Like anything else you need to test the waters. You never want to put yourself in a situation where you are desperate. Inventing is something you can do while you are working.” So for goodness sake, have enough success under your belt that you have turned inventing into complete replacement income before ever making the decision to quit your day job.

Moving Forward Responsibly with Your Invention Idea

Once you have done as much as you possibly can on your own you might want to consider hiring an engineering firm to provide additional information and input to put your invention over the top. The thing to remember is that if the person or firm you hire provides information that relates to the conception of the invention they will be considered a co-inventor. As a co-inventor they have rights to the patent. In order to get the help you don’t want to give up rights to your invention. You will want to have an agreement in place keeping ownership of the patent rights if you seek assistance from someone else, whether they are a professional or not. You should also have a confidentiality agreement in place, unless you are speaking with an attorney, in which case a confidentiality agreement is unnecessary. We have some free sample confidentiality agreements you can use as you see fit.