Posts Tagged: "independent inventors"

Why Patent Attorneys Don’t Work on Contingency

Having spent time as a litigator I know exactly what goes into taking a case on a contingency basis and you only take cases on a contingency when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there WILL be money ACTUALLY recovered. That is why it is perfect for personal injury attorneys. They can tell with great certainty, if they are being honest, if money will be recovered. So you need to be 100% sure when you take the case that money will be obtained because as it turns out cases can and do take on a life of their own and even when you are 100% certain at the outset you make mistakes. If you are not 100% certain at the beginning you pretty much never recover anything.

Patent Drafting: Drilling Down on Variations in a Patent Application

One of the challenges that a drafter faces when trying to satisfy the enablement requirement is with respect to describing things that can and will vary depending on the circumstances. What you want to do is follow up by explaining the various permutations to help the reader more readily understand what facts, choices or circumstances will have impact.

An Introduction to Patent Claims

Why are we talking about this in a claims primer? There is a difference between adding what we call “new matter” and adding patent claims. New matter, which is prohibited, is defined by first viewing whatever is present at the time of the original filing of the patent application. In determining the breadth of what is covered by that initial patent filing you rely not only on the description contained in the specification and any drawings filed but also on the originally filed claims. Thus, new matter is defined in the negative. If it wasn’t there in the specification, drawings or originally filed claims then it is new matter. If it was present somewhere in what you filed it is not new matter.

Patenting Board Games 101

In my experience one of the things that inventors of board games frequently forget is the inclusion of alternative methods of play. Don’t just focus on the preferred method of play and preferred rules, but think about ways that the game can be modified and changed. Let me use an example from the extremely popular game Monopoly. One of the things that keep many people from playing Monopoly is the length of the game. That has lead to any number of various “house rules” to be implemented by those who love the game but want it to be played faster so the game can be completed in a reasonable time frame, or at least before everyone loses interest. So if you invented Monopoly in addition to the traditional rules you should give some thought to rules associated with accelerated play.

Why Does It Cost So Much to Prepare a Patent Application?

Outsourcing to those who speak English as a second language is extremely dangerous, and there is only so much an inexperienced patent attorney or patent agent can do without having someone more seasoned review the work and add value. We can gripe about the “good old days” or we can just realize that it takes more time and more energy to prepare patent applications then every before, and consequently more money than ideal. So if you are going to go down the patent path do yourself a favor. Either go all in and get quality or don’t bother. The half-way solution is a recipe for spending money and getting nothing to show for it in return.

The Benefits of a Provisional Patent Application

With most provisional patent applications the 80-20 rule applies. To get to 80% complete it takes 20% of the time and the final 20% will take 80% of the time. Thus, the approach to provisional patent applications is to make sure you have all the disclosure we need later when we will prepare the nonprovisional patent application. This can include attaching one or more supplemental documents to a drafted provisional patent application, it can and usually does include filing many drawings, sketches and even photographs.

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.

The Eureka Method: How to Think Like an Inventor

In my experience, the passion to invent is stirred by two things: dissatisfaction with an existing product or service (i.e., too large, too slow, too expensive, too difficult to use), or a dream and desire to create something entirely new, a product or service that will augment humanity’s capability to reach farther, move faster, aggregate and analyze all sorts of data, or bring together pieces and form a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Over my career I have been a named inventor on 147 U.S. patents. Over my career I have developed a process for identifying consumer needs and creating unique, patentable solutions that are relevant in the marketplace. I call this the Eureka Method. The Eureka Method is a mental discipline that can be learned and practiced to help you produce a Eureka! moment.

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.

Beware Background Pitfalls When Preparing a Patent Application

The best thing to do is explain why your invention solves problems and/or is important for the relevant consumer audience. In order to accomplish this you do not explain what else available to consumers and why it is inferior, missing functionality or missing parts. Remember, the focus of the application MUST be on your invention. It can be extremely helpful to create a comparison chart or write text comparing the prior art you know about with your invention, but this should be used by you or provided to your patent attorney or agent. It will be exceptionally helpful to have this information, and I ask my clients to provide it to me whenever they are willing to be so involved. This information informs how you describe the invention, and will be helpful later during prosecution, but it is not appropriate in a patent application.

USPTO to Host Inventor Symposium at Smithsonian Oct. 27-28

Whenever I write about USPTO conferences, symposia and events for independent inventors I say: “Simply stated, if you are a serious inventor you need to go to this Conference.” I really do believe that is true. You will be amazed at how much useful information you can obtain, and meeting up close and personal with successful inventors and government Officials is both educational and inspiring. It is sometimes easy to feel all alone as an independent inventor, facing a huge faceless bureaucracy as you attempt to do something that few of your friends and family really understand. These events that cater to the independent inventor help you realize you are not alone and while the USPTO is a government agency — even a bureaucracy — there are dedicated people up and down the chain of command who really care about innovation and want to help independent inventors. So be prepared to learn and be prepared to be inspired. Also come armed with ideas and suggestions. USPTO officials genuinely seem to want to hear what independent inventors are thinking and what they would find useful in the future.

Turning Your Idea into an Invention

One thing that many individuals and professional inventors employed by corporations (i.e., “kept inventors”) have in common is that they frequently do not perceive what they have come up with as worth patenting. So many have the idea that a patent is something that gets awarded to breakthrough innovations, when in fact it is far more common to have a patent awarded to an improvement on an existing product. If you can improve upon something , there is already a market in existence for the underlying product and consumers will perceive your improvement as worth paying for then you very well may have a winning invention. Certainly, you are much farther along the path to success with that trifecta.

The Myth of the Sole Inventor

The canonical story of the lone genius inventor is largely a myth. Edison didn’t invent the light bulb; he found a bamboo fiber that worked better as a filament in the light bulb developed by Sawyer and Man, who in turn built on lighting work done by others. Bell filed for his telephone patent on the very same day as an independent inventor, Elisha Gray; the case ultimately went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which filled an entire volume of U.S. Reports resolving the question of whether Bell could have a patent despite the fact that he hadn’t actually gotten the invention to work at the time he filed. The Wright Brothers were the first to fly at Kitty Hawk, but their plane didn’t work very well, and was quickly surpassed by aircraft built by Glenn Curtis and others – planes that the Wrights delayed by over a decade with patent lawsuits.

Patent Illustrations and Invention Drawings, What do you Need?

Over the years I have worked with many inventors as they seek to move forward with their inventions. As a patent attorney it is no great surprise that the overwhelming number of individuals I have worked with are interested in filing a patent application and ultimately obtaining a patent. Filing a patent application necessitates have drawings to include in the application, but patent drawings are not the only type of “drawings” that an inventor should be considering. Patent illustrations are wonderful for a patent application, but they don’t always do the invention justice if you are trying to capture the attention of a prospective licensee, or if you are trying to convince a buyer to place orders or sell the invention in their store.

Beat the Odds: How to Get Your Invention Licensed

Many inventors believe the way to get a company interested in their inventions is to write a letter – and then hope they receive an invitation to begin negotiations. This seldom happens. If you want to get your invention licensed and receive royalty payments, you have to deliver more than a “me too” product.