Two great tools for inventors that won’t break your bank account: provisional patent applications and trademarks.
Successfully licensing an invention or having a product to promote requires research and the cabability to speak to people regarding your invention. It is actually impossible for any manufacturer or retail buyer to agree to something without seeing it.
For good reason, many inventors are unwilling to share their invention with people they don’t know. Further, once an invention is shared publicly, international patent rights could be lost, and the one-year timeline within which a U.S. patent application needs to be filed generally has begun to tick. For that reason, many inventors rush out and file a full-blown, what to do with an invention idea. That addresses the uncertainties plus enables inventors to alert people that their invention is “patent pending.”
However, this approach has several downsides. First, utility patents and even patent applications may cost many 1000s of dollars. Ultimately, an inventor may find that the expense outweighs the main benefit. Second, during the early stages, most invention designs continue to be evolving. Filing a patent too early could signify it doesn’t actually reflect the most evolved designs and drawings. Third–and a lot important, in my view–this investment continues to be made before an inventor has conducted real researching the market to validate marketability from the product.
Two solutions that numerous inventors–myself included–use will be to file provisional patent applications and trademark applications for that invention and product name or logo.
These applications provide the best of both worlds. At a small part of the expense of a utility patent application, a provisional patent application is not actually a patent. It never will convert to your patent or become public, unless further action is taken. A provisional patent application is a similar to a place holder. Basically, you will be laying claim to the filing date in the provisional patent application when and if you opt to file for a full utility patent around twelve months from the time you file your provisional patent application. So if you choose to file a provisional patent application on March 1, 2010, and you then decide to file a utility patent application eleven months later on February 1, 2011, the priority date for your utility patent application would be regarded as being March 1, 2010, for those material substantively disclosed and enabled in your provisional application.
In the date you file your provisional patent application, you have the right to publish “patent pending” on your prototype and show it to whomever you want. Along the way, you will not lose your international patent rights and might still opt to file your utility patent application. But it offers you one year to develop your product and gain market information before you actually must make your ultimate decision on whether or not to file utility or international patent applications.
While technically you can write and file this application yourself, I suggest that you simply do it with some guidance and, at the very least, an overview with a patent ideas.
Every product carries a name, or it should. Once you start using the name with prospective licensees and customers, the invention actually becomes synonymous with the name. I have seen this happen repeatedly. Where there are just so many names an item might take that match the criteria to be both catchy capable to be registered.
So give just as much shown to names for your product as you can, and will include queries about the name within your market research. When you choose your selected name, trademark the name. Then when you talk to prospective licensees, make use of the name. (Note: I did so not say you must let them know you will be totally hooked on the name). However, if they become accustomed to your product’s name, they may watch your trademark as another valuable asset you will be bringing towards the table. Additionally it may further limit potential encroachment from likely competitors or knockoff products.
The underpinnings of trademark law are founded on the principle of first utilized, first in right. Filing of your trademark application typically constitutes use, but so does simply making use of the trademark. The truth is, in certain states you have to take advantage of the trademark publicly before filing a trademark application, and in the federal trademark system, a trademark should be used in interstate commerce before it may register. Therefore, make use of your trademark.
Once you’ve settled on and adopted your trademark you should identify it a trademark by using either ™ or ® as appropriate. Check your local state laws regarding the usage of.
In many states, trademark rights may be asserted regionally for free, just by using the T into a product (done by typing the letters “t” and “m” between two parentheses. The writing program automatically shrinks and raises it to achieve the T appearance.)
Second, a trademark might be registered with the United states Patent and Trademark office and overseas. This is a faster process, taking only 10 to 14 months. Once it is registered as being a U.S. federally registered trademark, use the ® (also typed by inserting the “r” between parentheses).
We have always mentioned that intellectual property, patents, trademarks and copyrights are simply tools with your inventing tool box. While using right tool can be quite valuable. The nicest thing about can i patent an idea is that it can get you time to figure out which other tools could be necessary. Likewise, trademarks certainly are a valuable tool inventors overlook.