Posts Tagged: "independent inventors"

PTO Expands Pro Bono Patent Assistance to Nation’s Inventors

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced the start of two new regional pro bono patent programs in California and the District of Columbia—the result of the USPTO’s cooperative efforts with the California Lawyers for the Arts and the Federal Circuit Bar Association (FCBA).

USPTO to Hold Inventors Conference in Austin, TX – Sept. 14-15

Inventors who attend these USPTO sponsored inventor conferences will receive practical advice from successful inventors, experienced practitioners and USPTO officials. The registration fee is $80 per person ($70 for seniors or students) and includes all sessions and presentations, morning and afternoon refreshments, lunch both days and the networking reception. Having been involved several times with the conference when it is held in Alexandria, Virginia, I can say first hand that this event is excellent, informative and educational. I highly recommend it for inventors and business people who need to become more familiar with patents and trademarks.

Patent Reality: Basement Prices Mean Basement Quality

When finances are difficult people look to themselves for assistance, and to figure out how they can make a better tomorrow without relying on anyone else. But if you do not have enough resources to pursue a plan in a manner that is likely to succeed all that you have done is waste time and money. Yes, the dirty little secret is that being cost conscious and seemingly financially responsible can lead exactly to the point where you didn’t want to be. The truth is that if you cut too many corners in the invention to patent to commercialization cycle your odds of succeeding go down dramatically. Being cheap is not synonymous with being fiscally responsible.

The Top 5 Mistakes Inventors Make

The first step toward commercializing an invention and making money from it is typically to pursue the patent path.  On the road to a patent there are many mistakes that inventors can make unwittingly, some of which will ultimately make it impossible to obtain a patent. With that in mind, here is a list of the top 5 mistakes inventors make, followed by discussion of what you should do to move your project forward in an appropriate and responsible way.

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.

Patent Drafting: Describing What is Unique Without Puffing

Although a patent application is not a sales pitch per se, most inventors will find it quite helpful to list as many descriptive objectives of the invention as is possible. As a general rule you should, however, stay away from laudatory language and puffery (e.g. “the best gadget known to man” or “the perfect solution” or “using this tool is unquestionably the choice any professional would make”). When you puff the tendency is to skimp on the descriptive details, which are essential to an appropriate patent application. Further, is anyone really likely to take your word for it being “the best”? That is why infomercials demonstrate the functional capabilities of an invention. In a patent application you need to describe the functionality and leave the selling to the salespeople later.

Protecting Your Invention When You Need Help

At what point does an idea take enough form to be considered an invention that can be protected? First, it is completely correct to say that ideas cannot be patented. Having said that, it is equally correct to say that every invention starts with an idea. The patent laws in the United States differentiate between a mere idea and conception. When you have a conception you have an invention, and the easiest way to define the term “conception” in lay terms is as an idea plus some knowledge regarding how to bring the idea into being, whether your idea is a compound, a product, a process or unique software.

Lifetime Brands to Host Inventor Open House May 31, 2012

In addition to key executives from Lifetime Brands, on hand for the day will be Warren Tuttle, Lifetime Brands External Open Innovation Director and President of the United Inventors Association. Steve Greenberg, author of Gadget Nation and host of Food Network’s television program “Invention Hunters” will also be at the event to meet and greet inventors. I personally know both Warren and Steve and they are certainly two of the good guys in the industry. Therefore, I am happy to recommend this event to inventors.

Book Review: Making Millions with Your Invention

The overarching theme of this book is to approach inventing in a business responsible way, so Janessa had me on page 1. Many who are unfamiliar with the trials and tribulations of inventors frequently fail to realize that inventors are highly intelligent and very creative. But like all intelligent and creative individuals engaged in a project, they need direction. She guides inventors in gentle, but firm ways, explaining what might otherwise seem obvious, but when you work with inventors daily you realize business savvy and prowess is not always where inventors excel. So when Janessa starts by explaining the importance of time management, scheduling and meeting promised deadlines she demonstrates an uncommon level of understanding with respect to both the questions inventors have and the knowledge they absolutely need to know to succeed.

USPTO Florida Regional Inventors Conference – April 27-28

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), Invent Now® and the National Academy of Inventors™ invite you to the Florida Regional Inventors Conference, a great chance to get practical advice from expert USPTO staff and to network with fellow creative entrepreneurs. The conference will be held April 27-28, 2012 at the Embassy Suites Hotel located on the campus of the University of South Florida.

USPTO and NIST Unveil New IP Awareness Assessment Tool

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) yesterday unveiled a new web-based IP Awareness Assessment Tool designed to help manufacturers, small businesses, entrepreneurs and independent inventors easily assess their knowledge of intellectual property (IP).

Patent Claim Drafting: Improvements and Jepson Claims

But how do you go about patenting an improvement? The first thing you must do is figure out what the advantages are over the prior art. You need to take a critical look at your own invention and identify that which distinguishes it over the prior art. You should absolutely focus on structure, not on the method of use. Differences in the method of use will only come into play if you are claiming a new and nonobvious method of using, which is typically not the case. In the overwhelming majority of cases you want to protect the device or apparatus, which makes use differences irrelevant.

Patent Searching 101: A Patent Search Tutorial

Once you receive manageable results you need to read the patents and see which ones are relevant. Try various search terms to make sure you are covering all possible descriptions of the invention. Along the way, as you read the patents and identify related ones keep track of the numbers and identify the US classification that relates to the type of invention you are searching. Upon identifying several US classifications that seem to relate to your invention, return to the Advanced Search Page and do a classification search. For example, again following our example, you may notice that classification 206/545 seems relevant. As it turns out, this classification relates to special receptacles or packages with an insulating feature. See US Classes by Number & Title. Therefore, it would seem that patents within this classification are potentially highly relevant. So return to the Advanced Search Page text box and enter “CCL/206/545”. This will search for all the patents classified in 206/545, which as of the time the search was conducted resulted in 144 US patents. You can also add to a classification search to narrow. For example, if you search “CCL/206/545 and SPEC/beverage”, you get down to 50 US patents.

Reviewing a Patent Application Drafted by an Inventor

With all of this in mind, like many others I tell inventors that if they are going to do it themselves they should consider getting a patent attorney to review their application before they file. Having said that, it is unrealistic to believe that a patent attorney can review what you have done in 1 hour or less. Furthermore, it is foolish to believe that an application reviewed for 1 hour or less will result in a work product that will be as good as if it were drafted by the patent attorney in the first place. If you want to do it yourself and have a qualified, experienced patent attorney review your work you should budget at least 6 to 10 hours of their time to review everything, critique what you have done and provide feedback and guidance for you to continue to build upon.